“Progress is impossible without change*”

26/03/2021   //   No Comments

SAIF thanks Paul Allcock for the blog. Paul is SAIF Past President, Government Liaison Rep and long standing Executive Committee member.

As we begin to move out of the latest Covid-19 lockdown, many independent funeral directors will find themselves with some very welcome time on their hands. It wouldn’t surprise me if during these slack periods that thoughts will come to mind of what the future holds. There is, of course, the unknown of how long the effects of Covid-19 will remain with us. But there may also be a need to change the way they conduct their businesses.

There are so many elements of change happening at the moment, most of which are outside any funeral director’s control. We are all too well aware of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) enquiry and the proposals within the final report which will have a marked effect on the funeral industry. I have heard very mixed opinions of the likely outcomes, but one thing for sure is the fact that there is going to be change. Not only for the funeral directors but also for the trade associations, who will also need to evolve to ensure that they are still an essential part of the industry.

Following the CMA reports we now have the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) enquiry into the funeral planning sector. While this is aimed particularly at regulating the sales of plans and the management of the funds held therein, any changes will affect every funeral director who currently sells a plan or provides a funeral for a funeral planning company. There are many elements which will be changing, and it is so important that all funeral directors ensure they are well informed and constantly up to speed with these changes.

Running along in the background, behind these two major enquiries has been the ongoing introduction of the Medical Examiners and ultimately, the changes this will make to the current procedures following a death for both cremation and burial. During the pandemic we have seen the second doctor not being required to complete part 5 cremation forms. We have also seen documentation being completed electronically for both doctors and registrars. This may well be a sign of things to come, but there are many questions still to be resolved.

One thing for certain is that once again there will be change. With all the changes we are going to see over the next few years it wouldn’t surprise me if some funeral directors think seriously about their own futures and the future of their business. Indeed, there are a number who have already chosen to sell their business during what has been an incredibly difficult time for everyone.

On the flip side there are likely to be some very real opportunities for those who embrace the upcoming changes and use any new guidance to evolve and improve the levels of service that they currently offer. This may take time and, in some cases, additional investment to achieve, but I believe in the longer term, the companies who embrace this will benefit along with the public they serve. Any successful business must move with the times and keep up to date with new trends to remain competitive in any market. Funeral directors are no different and over the next few years with the changes in the offing, it is vital to keep up to date for the sake of your business.

*Quote from George Bernard Shaw

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