The Funeral Planning Authority (FPA) has announced significant constitutional changes, in a move intended to give it greater independence within the industry. Previous board members, who were representatives from various funeral plan providers that the FPA regulates, have resigned and been replaced by two new independent directors.
As part of the changes, the FPA has changed from a company limited by guarantee, to a community interest company. The FPA credits the change to recognition of its role in driving up industry standards, helping protect customers’ interests and supporting them in making informed choices.
The FPA, which was set up in 2002, has seen the funeral plan market grow steadily since its inception, with 2016 annual statistics showing plan sales standing at 210,700, compared to 46,340 in 2002.
In that time, many funeral plan providers have registered with the FPA, through abiding by the Rules and Code of Practice and undergoing objective scrutiny from the FPA’s independent Compliance Committee.
However, until now the FPA’s Board comprised of two independent directors and four industry representatives. The changes announced today mean a totally independent board will determine the future strategy for the FPA which will be focused on rigorously enforcing standards required of FPA registered providers. The Compliance Committee will continue to operate to monitor and enforce the Authority’s Rules and Code of Practice.
Details on the newly appointed board members are as follows:
- Shaun Astley – Stone.
Shaun spent 30 years operating at board and executive level in the insurance, and retail financial services sector. His previous roles include Global Managing Director of Thomas Cook Financial/Travel Services, Membership Director at BUPA, and Retail Banking Director at Alliance and Leicester Bank PLC. In addition to his general management roles, he has specialised in Risk and compliance in a number of NED roles, including Senior Independent Director of CPP Group PLC, and NED of the Professional Claims Management Association
- Alison Beeston
During her long career in banking, life assurance, mortgages and property Alison has held a variety of senior roles responsible for people development and competence, customer service, compliance and risk. She holds advanced financial planning qualifications, a postgraduate degree in human resources and a variety of risk management and compliance qualifications. She worked for a number of years in the equity release market which has some similarities to the funeral planning market, was a founding member of the Advisory Board of the Society of Later Life Advisers and previously a Non-Executive for Hermitage Housing Association. She maintains a strong interest in matters affecting the older customer market
In addition, Deborah Cullen, who is current Chair of the Compliance Committee, will also join the Board. Deborah has been a barrister both in private practice and as in house counsel for over 25 years, She has built a broad international and domestic commercial practice including advising on non contentious matters, litigation and mediation. In her most recent roles she has been working with a number of financial services organisations in the fields of regulation, compliance and corporate governance. The FPA will also use an advisory Stakeholder Group to continue seeking input from the industry and other interested parties.
Graeme McAusland, CEO of the FPA said, “These structural changes to the FPA have been made in recognition of the fact that the pre-paid funeral market continues to develop, and the FPA’s regulatory model needs to be aligned with that development.
“We envisage this new model will see increased activity from the FPA, a review of our Rules and CoP and a heightened focus to ensure that customers recognise the importance and value of using a provider who is registered with the FPA.”
Steve Winfield, Chair of the FPA said, “I am delighted to welcome Alison and Shaun to the FPA. Their wide experience of regulatory matters, and focus on the protection of consumers are very much aligned with our on-going focus and future goals for the organisation. We look forward to their strategic insight helping us develop the FPA to ensure that it continues to add value to consumers in this rapidly evolving market.”