Does the Trust take legal advice?
The provision of good legal advice is fundamental to the actions of the Trustees. In this regard the Trustees have appointed Brodies LLP of Glasgow to advise in all legal matters.
Exactly what is the money invested in?
Money in the Trust fund is invested in line with the Statement of Investment Principles, which is regularly reviewed by the Trustees and investment advisers.
How much is invested in equities and why?
Over the long term, investments in equities have outperformed all other forms of investment. However, in the short term equities are volatile and this is recognised by the Trustees. Therefore equity investment can be a strength and a weakness. At 31 March 2017, equities comprised 14% of the Trust’s assets.
How safe is the money?
The Trust provisions ensure that the cash is ring-fenced from Golden Charter Limited, therefore is completely separate.
Regarding the safety of investments, the Trustees use Barnett Waddingham the actuaries, also as investment advisers. They provide advice regarding the safe investment of the cash in a manner to ensure the availability of funds at various points into the future to coincide with expected deaths. Golden Charter Limited provides planholder birth information and this, plus planholder mortality experience enables the actuary to predict life expectation with some certainty. Thereafter funds are invested in line with the Statement of Investment Principles.
Is there enough money in the Trust to meet all the future payments?
Yes. The most recent valuation of the Trust as at 31 March 2017 shows the Trust to be over 100% funded. This covers future funeral costs in line with future levels of inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index.
What happens to the plans sold in Ireland?
These plan monies are lodged in the Golden Charter Trust and are protected in the same manner as all other plans.
What if all the planholders cancelled tomorrow?
As at 31 March 2017, if all plans were cancelled, there are sufficient funds available to repay all of the planholders in line with their contracts.
What is the current value of the Trust?
In the audited accounts of the Trust for the year ended 31/03/2017 the net assets were £936 million.
What rate of growth is expected and how can this guarantee to cover the Funeral Director costs in the future?
No one can guarantee future returns from investments. However, the actuary has confirmed that the valuation as at 31st March 2017 shows the Trust to be over 100% funded and this covers future funeral costs in line with future levels of inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index.
Who appoints the Trustees?
The Trust was set up in 1990 by Golden Charter Limited to ensure that planholders’ cash was kept separate. At that time the Trust became a separate entity from Golden Charter Limited and was controlled from within. Therefore all appointments are made by the Trustees themselves who have absolute control within the terms of the Trust Deed which is the document governing the Trust.
Who audits the Trust and how often?
Grant Thornton LLP are the Trust’s auditors. Audits are carried out annually and provided to the Funeral Planning Authority.
Who manages the Trust?
The Trust is managed by a Board of eight Trustees. The Funeral Planning Authority rules state that a majority of Trustees of any Trust required to be independent of Golden Charter Limited. Details of the Trustees are here . The Trustees have been appointed by virtue of their diverse skills, experience and integrity.
Who values the assets?
The Trustees have appointed Barnett Waddingham which is a firm of consulting actuaries, to value the assets. This is completed annually as at 31 March and a report is provided to the Funeral Planning Authority.
Why and how does the trust deal differently with traditional plans and Independent Way plans?
When the Independent Way was launched it was decided that the investment profile should be different from the Main Trust to ensure returns were more predictable. Initially there was no equity investment. However, it was decided that the Trustees should seek stability for both parts of the Trust and steps have been taken to progressively balance out the investment strategy of the Trust so that the whole Trust has the same, secure, predictable strategy and return. Given the size of the Trust, this will take a few years to achieve but in the meantime there is no question of any safety of Trust funds being compromised.
Why not invest the money elsewhere for higher returns?
The Trustees have to, by law, protect the assets under their control. The beneficiaries of the Trust- the Funeral Directors – would not be happy if the fund value dropped and there were lower payments at need.
The “higher returns sector” would most likely have a high proportion of equities and higher yielding bonds. European market investments would also be high risk. The role of the Trustees is to try to achieve sufficient growth in the fund to achieve the level of growth in plan pay-outs expected by Golden Charter Limited and its shareholders i.e. the Funeral Directors. Hence the conservative split.