We welcome the acknowledgement in today’s report of the importance of the work the FPA is doing and that customers should be seeking an FPA registered provider if considering buying a funeral plan. As the regulator for the funeral plan sector, we are focused on protecting consumers, and our work to drive up standards in the industry is clearly recognised in this report. Fairer Finance have acknowledged that the conduct of the 24 firms registered with us (representing around 95% of the market) is good – which serves to further highlight the importance of customers only using FPA registered plan providers.
We recognise that the sector is evolving, and we are currently closely reviewing our Rules to ensure they remain robust. We welcome the suggestions in this report on revisions to our Rules, and these will be considered as part of our current review process.
Fairer Finance have repeated their previous opinion that the industry should fall under FCA regulation – we believe this a flawed viewpoint and that there is no substantial evidence in their report to support this view. The overwhelming view of the industry is that a solution based around the FPA with all providers being registered with the FPA is the best solution for customers in this market. We believe this view supports the significant changes we have made and the robust approach we take to regulating our registered providers.
This report also does not define what Fairer Finance mean by FCA regulation; most likely because the process of setting out an FCA regulatory regime is unlikely to be straightforward. We have in depth knowledge of the market and we therefore understand what FCA regulation in any form might mean for all providers, in particular smaller organisations that were not sponsors of this report. The cost of compliance would impact them disproportionately with significant internal costs and the consequence would be reduced competition or increased costs for customers, which is not a desirable outcome.
Our message has always been very clear. Customers and funeral directors should only be working with FPA registered providers. Doing so gives them the reassurance that the provider in question has voluntarily undergone additional scrutiny and is operating to a high standard in terms of their sales practices, investment practices, and in relation to how they treat their customers.