The Funeral Planning Authority
In late May 2018, Safe Hands Funeral Plans submitted its formal application for registration with the Funeral Planning Authority (FPA) and whilst the approval process can take several months, we here at Safe Hands Funeral Plans are determined that we will, soon, achieve registration.
Though there is no statutory regulation/governance of the funeral plan industry at the present time (meaning there is no official set of standards that funeral plan companies must, by law, conform to), here at Safe Hands Funeral Plans - as a company committed to ensuring customers' best interests are served at all times - we fully advocate and support the idea of there being statutory regulation of the industry and we feel that the FPA, with its industry knowledge, experience and expertise should be given statutory regulatory status by the government (which would mean that all funeral plan providers would, by law, have to be registered with the FPA).
Customers should take great comfort from the fact that legislation exists, under the Regulated Activities Order (Financial Services and Markets Act 2000), that all funeral plan companies must, by law, abide by to ensure that their customers' monies are invested in trust funds that are independent (meaning the customer, not the company, is the beneficiary of the trust fund), that the investment of the trust fund is independently managed, that the assets of the trust are independently analysed every 3 years to assess whether they are sufficient to cover the company's liabilities (customers' funerals, in other words), and that the company itself is independently audited.
In all respects, Safe Hands Funeral Plans complies with this legislation:
- The Safe Hands Plans Trust is fully independent - none of Safe Hands Funeral Plans' directors or staff are in any way connected with the board of trustees. The Trust is operated entirely independently, by Pitmans Trustees Limited
- The Safe Hands Plans Trust is is independently managed by UBS - multinational investment management specialists, voted 'Global Best Investment Bank' at the Global Finance World's Best Investment Banks Award 2016
- The company accounts of Safe Hands Plans Funeral Plans - which is the trading name of Safe Hands Plans Limited (Registered No. 08869875) - are audited by chartered accountants, JW Hinks
- Mazars LLP, one the the UK's largest accounting, auditing and actuarial firms, are actuaries to the Safe Hands Plans Trust
Furthermore, here at Safe Hands Funeral Plans we like to think we are one of the industry's leaders in terms of ensuring that customers understand the plan they are buying in respect of what it covers, what it doesn't cover and any risk that there may be further fees to pay at the time of need. Entirely voluntarily, we ensure our sales process is subject to various controls and checks, including:
- Plan Purchaser Satisfaction Confirmation Forms (introduced 1st Aug 2017): A stand-alone form (separate to the standard plan application form) setting out in explicit detail the key terms of a plan, that customers buying in a face-to-face setting must sign, which acts as a secondary check (supplementary to the standard plan application form and Terms and conditions) that the customer has been properly informed about their purchase and that the person who sold the plan acted in a suitably sensitive and responsible manner
- Customer Welcome Calls (introduced 1st August 2017): Within 2 days of a customer purchasing their plan they receive a Customer Welcome Call, during which we check that they are satisfied with and understand their purchase (and in the case of the Topaz plan, that they understand it does not include any allowance for disbursements/3rd party fees)
- Explicit easy to understand funeral plan documentation: Within the Customer Welcome Pack that our customers receive post-sale, are info-sheets confirming in explicit detail what a plan covers and does not cover - and how the disbursements allowance included in the Pearl, Sapphire and Ruby plans is utlised at the time of need (or in the case of the Topaz plan, that it does not include any disbursements allowance)
Also, when our plan holders pass away, our Bereavement Response Team take great care to ensure that families and loved ones are thoroughly briefed about the deceased's plan and the extent/limits of its provisions.