Depending on how you have chosen to pay, your monies will be paid directly into The Golden Charter Trust, or used to buy a life assurance policy. If paid into the Trust, your monies will be held there until needed to pay the funeral director who performs your funeral services.
The T&Cs of your plan state that a sum to cover initial expenses (currently £249) is paid by the Trust to Golden Charter. When you buy a plan through Golden Charter rather than directly from a funeral director, an additional £200 is paid to Golden Charter. This cost is borne by the funeral director and does not affect the guarantee of services he provides to you under your funeral plan.
The Trust is a distinct legal entity from Golden Charter. This means the Trust’s assets are entirely separate, and your money is ‘ring fenced’. The Trust is managed by a Board of Trustees which is required, by majority, to be completely independent of Golden Charter. The monies paid by all planholders are prudently invested for the ultimate benefit of the selected funeral directors.
The overall value of the Trust Fund can rise or fall but this does not impact on the guarantee of the funeral director’s services under your plan, or on your cancellation rights. A Golden Charter funeral plan is not an investment product which fluctuates in value or on which you earn interest. In return for your payment, you receive a product at a fixed price for a future service. The monies paid into the Trust from all planholders are invested by the trustees for the ultimate benefit of the nominated funeral directors.
In recent times funeral costs have increased by more than consumer inflation. However, your nominated funeral director has guaranteed that he/she will not charge more for their services associated with your plan. It is the aim of the Trust to increase the amounts due on outstanding funeral plans at a level at least equivalent to the annual percentage increase in the consumer price index (CPI) to allow payments to funeral directors at the time of need.
The Trust’s website is regularly updated in order that full information on the Trust is always available. If your specific question cannot be answered from the information on the website, you can contact the Trust directly by completing the form on the “contact us” section on the website.
If you cancel your plan, your rights to a refund are determined by the terms and conditions of your plan with Golden Charter. When your cancellation is processed by Golden Charter, the appropriate sum will be refunded to you directly from the Trust.
Nobody “owns” the Trust. The Trust is an entity constituted to safeguard planholders’ money until the time of need. The Trust is managed by a Board of Trustees who are legally responsible for holding the assets for the benefit of beneficiaries. The Trustees take appropriate advice from carefully selected professional advisers.
Details of the current serving Trustees can be found here. The Trustees are all experienced, successful business people from a wide range of backgrounds. When a new Trustee is to be appointed, a shortlist of suitably qualified candidates is identified and interviewed by the existing Board, following which the successful applicant is chosen.
Funeral plans are not financial products and so are currently not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (the FCA). However, Golden Charter Limited is a registered provider of the Funeral Planning Authority. The FPA check that all registered providers abide by a set of Rules and a Code of Practice. The Rules require the use of a Trust (or an insurance company) for holding planholder monies.The Trust Deed requires the Trustees to be subject to the rules of the FPA.
The net asset value of the Trust at 31 March 2017 was £936 million. Annual accounts are prepared each year at 31 March and audited by Grant Thornton, one of the UK’s leading audit & accountancy firms. In addition, a full and detailed Actuarial Review is undertaken each year at 31 March by Barnett Waddingham, one of the UK’s leading actuarial consulting firms.
The Trust holds a fully diversified portfolio of investments which includes index-linked gilts, global equities, diversified growth funds, multi asset credit, long lease property, infrastructure assets and cash. Full details of the current underlying investment managers can be found here.
The most recent full actuarial valuation at 31 March 2017 showed that the Trust’s assets were over 100% of the funds required to meet future funeral costs covered by the plans in the Trust, allowing for increases in funeral costs in line with future levels of inflation as measured by the consumer price index.
The Trust Fund is managed on a prudent basis. The investment strategy is based on a long term view and designed to cope with short term market fluctuations. The trustees regularly instruct their investment advisers to undertake a ‘stress testing’ exercise to show the impact on the Trust’s value of a combination of extreme market conditions. The results show that even an unlikely combination of negative events would not fatally damage the strength of the Trust.
The Trustees do not consider that the issue of Brexit will have any significant impact on the Trust.
The accounts of the Trust and its subsidiary, The Golden Charter Trust Limited are prepared annually and are audited by Grant Thornton LLP. The subsidiary company’s accounts are lodged at Companies House. A consolidated statement of the Trust’s net assets at 31 March each year is published on the Trust’s website and can be found here.
If Golden Charter ceased trading, your monies would continue to be safeguarded in the Trust and held until the time of need. You would also retain the right to cancel your plan subject to the T&Cs of your plan. The Trust would continue as long as is necessary to make payments for all plans as they mature.
Your monies remain safeguarded in the Trust. In such circumstances, you could choose another funeral director from the many independent funeral directors who accept Golden Charter plans. Alternatively, you could simply ask Golden Charter to reallocate your plan for you. The original terms of your plan would remain unchanged, subject to the new funeral director’s acceptance. You would also retain the right to cancel your plan.
The Trust’s head office is in Glasgow. As part of its investment portfolio, the Trust owns an office building in Glasgow which is leased on an arm’s length basis on a full repairing & insuring lease, to Golden Charter Ltd. The Trust’s full time employees are based at this office.
Contact details for the Trust are given here.