If a business is involved in loans, insurance, the stock market or any investment funding and banking operations then the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is the regulatory body that can both issue rulings, take individuals and business to court and ensure best practices are in place, to protect investors, people and other businesses in general.
For some complicated reason, although all pre paid funeral plans are held in trust and often linked to stock market performance, they are not within the remit of the FCA. Two paragraphs of text ensure that funeral plans are not subject to FCA cover and they are situated in the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (Regulated Activities) Order 2001 (RAO), both Article 60 and Article 3.
No, the FCA do not oversee prepaid funeral plans as of now but the Funeral Planning Authority (FPA) do. You can visit the Funeral Planning Authority website for further clarification.
Selecting a Reputable Funeral Plan Provider
When investing your money long term as you are with even a cheap pre paid funeral plan by instalments or a whole payment you need to have a guarantee that the money is safe and protected.
It has to be known that the money will be there in ten, fifteen or thirty years to cover the financial aspects and amounts expected.
This is why you will find that the majority of vendors selling or reselling funeral plans such as these are part of the FPA. This is the only UK body which regulates its membership. They provide scrutiny via an annual review of every single company that wishes to display an FPA trust mark. These businesses need to apply a Code of Practice and ensure rules are met.
What does the FPA offer in terms of service and cover to customers who take out funeral plans?
While they don’t directly cover the activity of a Funeral Director they are able to investigate complaints received from the general public or other concerned businesses. However unrelated disputes that are outside the remit of selling and making provision for a pre paid funeral plan are overseen by other entities.
Useful Alternative Funeral Related Trade Bodies
There are numerous trade bodies that are integral to the provision of both funerals and the pre payment of funeral plans.
It is not a pre-requisite however. You may hold the view if these companies are willing to hold their company and services to a higher standard and open themselves to be monitored that they may be more reliable.
If you have a complaint or query about a funeral director that is unconnected to pre paid funeral plans then a trade body such as The National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD) or The National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF) may be able to assist in determining a welcome outcome. Most are registered to one or the other.
In respect to current UK Government investigations and reviews of the pre paid funeral practice, if it is deemed that there are shortfalls in fund management that see trust fund monies unable to meet the required sum to pay for the funeral that was bought steps will have to be taken.
This would probably include oversight by both the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) and the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).
Both of which have the ability to levy fines and take individuals and companies to court after thorough investigation. As would the FCA.