Regulations and funeral plans: What is the point?

My name is Olivia Clinton, and I am here at Southern Co-op’s head office alongside my peers, Emma and Lexie for work experience as part of my T Level course with HSDC.

On Wednesday the 30th of November I found out more about funeral planning and the reason behind its new regulations.

I spoke to Linda Uwawuike about her role and responsibilities within the business. Linda is the Funeral Planning and Administration Manager and has been with the business since the beginning of May. Although she is quite new to the role, her background is in banking and finance for over 30 years, giving her lots of experience dealing with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) which started regulating pre-paid funeral plans on 29 July.

The FCA is there to protect the consumer to make sure that every aspect of the business benefits the consumer and raises standards. Linda mentioned that there can be some strict rules within this, for example, managing vulnerability and certain types of payments. From Linda and Southern Co-op’s point of view, it is about making sure that they do the right thing by the customer, customer duty and how they put their clients at the heart and soul of everything they do, everything is done to protect them, whilst still running the business efficiently. Linda said: “It is important to be transparent and honest.”

There may also be people looking for a funeral plan who are vulnerable. Linda explained: “You need to be calm and factual, offer sympathy and be empathetic.” For clients that are considered vulnerable, there is then a model the team follows to make sure they are protected and to ensure everything is dealt with appropriately. This includes ‘thanking’ them for telling us what the health issue or other vulnerability is, ‘explaining’ that this will be written in their notes, asking for ‘explicit’ consent to do this, ‘asking’ any questions surrounding the vulnerability, and ‘signposting’ the client to where they could get support.

When people say the word ‘funeral’, this is often linked to sadness and grief but, within her role, Linda can help people prepare for their funeral. By discussing what they want for their funeral, it can help your loved ones in the future at a time which is much more emotional.

Linda highly recommends that, if you haven’t thought about it, look at planning a funeral. She said: “You can enjoy the rest of your life knowing you’ve created a funeral best fit for you or the person you’re doing it for.”