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Dear CEO | Release Date: 12th November 2021

To read a shorter summary of this Dear CEO letter, click here.

To access the original FCA document, click here.

Long Summary

In response to the legislative changes mandating regulatory oversight of the pre-paid funeral plans market, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is set to enforce new regulations starting 29 July 2022. This transition marks a significant development aimed at enhancing consumer protection and establishing clear operational standards within the sector. The FCA’s directive requires all funeral plan providers and intermediaries to secure appropriate authorisation, aligning with the regulatory standards to continue their operations.

Context and Regulatory Shift


The pre-paid funeral plans market has witnessed substantial growth, prompting concerns regarding the oversight and consumer protection standards. These concerns have been amplified by instances of financial mismanagement and lack of transparency, affecting vulnerable consumers.

Legislative Changes

The FCA has been appointed to bring robustness and clarity to the market, ensuring that firms are held to high standards of conduct. The regulation extends to all aspects of funeral plan provision, including the sale, management, and administration of these plans.

Requirements for Funeral Plan Providers and Intermediaries

Authorisation Process

Providers and intermediaries must obtain FCA authorisation by 29 July 2022. This process involves a thorough review of the applicant’s business operations, financial health, risk management practices, and consumer protection measures.

Compliance Obligations

Post-authorisation, firms are expected to adhere to a set of ongoing compliance requirements designed to uphold transparency, fairness, and integrity in their dealings with consumers. This includes regular reporting, adherence to marketing standards, and engagement in fair customer treatment practices.

Criminal Offence

Operating without authorisation or failing to cease operations post the stipulated deadline constitutes a criminal offence, highlighting the seriousness with which the FCA views compliance in this sector.

Strategic Implications for Firms

Application Submission Advice

Firms are urged to submit complete and accurate applications well ahead of the final deadline to avoid delays in processing and potential operational disruptions. Late submissions or incomplete applications risk not being authorised in time, compelling firms to cease operations.

Operational Readiness

Firms must review and possibly overhaul their operational frameworks to align with the new regulatory requirements, focusing on risk management, customer engagement, and compliance monitoring.

Wind-Down Procedures

For firms that choose not to seek authorisation or fail to meet the regulatory standards, a clear and responsible wind-down process is mandatory. This involves either transferring customer contracts to an authorised provider or ensuring refunds are processed where appropriate.

Consumer Protection Focus

Enhanced Transparency

The FCA mandates that all communication with consumers must be clear, fair, and not misleading. Firms must disclose any significant changes in their operational status, especially those affecting consumer contracts and services.

Support for Vulnerable Consumers

Special attention is required to protect vulnerable consumers, with firms expected to implement policies that identify and address the specific needs of these individuals.

Monitoring and Enforcement

Public Record and Transparency

The FCA will maintain a public record of authorised and applying firms, enhancing transparency and aiding consumers in making informed decisions.

Enforcement Actions

The FCA’s robust enforcement strategy includes the issuance of warnings, imposition of penalties, and other disciplinary actions against non-compliant firms. This demonstrates the regulator’s commitment to maintaining high industry standards.

Conclusion and Next Steps

The FCA’s regulatory framework for funeral plan providers represents a transformative approach to market oversight. By setting stringent operational and consumer protection standards, the FCA aims to foster a more transparent, fair, and stable market environment.

Key Takeaways and Actions for Firms

Ensure Timely Compliance: Apply for FCA authorisation without delay.

Maintain Rigorous Standards: Adhere to the high standards of consumer protection and operational integrity prescribed by the FCA.

Engage Transparently with Consumers: Communicate changes and operational statuses clearly to customers.

Prepare for Possible Exit: Develop a responsible wind-down plan if exiting the market.

Firms are encouraged to engage proactively with the FCA, ensuring they are well-prepared to meet the new regulatory challenges and continue providing valuable services to consumers under the enhanced regulatory regime.

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