SAIF Chief Executive offers insights on the future of funeral directing at CBCE

July 2, 2019   //   No Comments

SAIF’s Chief Executive Terry Tennens today spoke to a packed hall of delegates at the Cremation and Burial Communication and Education 2019 in Southampton.

In a session titled ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, Terry discussed the challenges facing the funeral profession which range from regulatory concerns to environmental issues.

Terry told the conference that significant developments had taken place within the profession since Scotland’s Burial and Cremation Act 2016 had become law.

Members of Scottish SAIF and the NAFD had expressed overwhelming support for regulation, he said, adding that progress was being made towards a statutory code of practice, in addition to licensing of individuals and funeral costs guidance.

Meanwhile, the national Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched a full-scale market investigation into the funeral profession, prompting expectations that regulation in some form will apply across all jurisdictions of the UK in the future.

The trade associations are now working together and are providing accurate and up-to-date information to the CMA about the funeral profession, he said.

Terry told the audience that whilst SAIF supports regulation, there was a fear particularly amongst independent funeral directors that an onerous regime could hurt small businesses.

It was important, he added, that funerals didn’t become a one-size-fits-all commodity, as this would deprive bereaved people of ways in which to mourn someone’s death.

Alongside the focus on funeral directors, the authorities were now also looking at prepaid funeral plans, with HM Treasury proposing to bring plans under the regulation of the Financial Conduct Authority.

Terry then went on to talk about the future and outlined six key areas on which funeral directors will need to focus in the coming years.

The first was the environment, with pressure on all businesses to reduce waste and their carbon footprints. The funeral profession has an opportunity to innovate in this area.

Next was the growing importance of aftercare and bereavement support, and funeral directors are well placed to work with other professionals to create an ecosystem of care for people experiencing grief.

The third area, Terry said, was technology. Consumers expect to be able to engage brands with technology, and those funeral directors who made themselves available via the internet would be the successful businesses of the future.

Fourthly, people are looking for a values-based approach to business and want firms to be active members of the community. Independent funeral directors are ideally placed to excel in this area.

Terry’s fifth point concerned accredited training. With regulation becoming a fact of life, it was important that funeral directors demonstrated their commitment to professional standards through nationally-recognised training.

Finally, Terry added, personalisation would become ever more important as the trend becomes embedded in the first generation of social media adopters.

SAIF was now helping its members to confront these challenges with groups dedicated to nurturing the next generation of funeral directors and helping to raise awareness amongst funeral directors of the benefits of modern technology.

In summing up, Terry said owners of homes would really benefit by working to develop their brand, service chapels, social media and online presence, infrastructure investment, client-centred customisation and the regional influence of independents.

To find out more about how SAIF membership could help your business to navigate the future, please contact the SAIF Business centre on: 01279 726777 or via info@saif.org.uk.