Chairman’s Statement

  • Ian Blackford

  • Chairman
  • “The Trust remains well placed to meet any challenges and fulfil its objectives.”

How the Trust has performed in the year to 31 March 2019:

I am delighted to report another year of growth from a combination of cash flow from new plan sales by Golden Charter Limited, and good returns from the managed investments. The audited net assets of the Trust at the year-end totalled £1.126 billion (2018 audited – £1.031 billion). The following chart show how the value of the Trust and the average value of an outstanding funeral plan have grown over the period from 31 March 2015 to 31 March 2019.

We anticipate that the Trust’s value, and the average plan value on an outstanding plan, will continue to grow in line with Golden Charter Limited’s forecasts for plan sales and from prudent management of our investments.

Investment portfolio:

The principal objective of the Trust is to invest the funds received from plan holders with a view to ensuring that, at all times, there are sufficient funds to meet the anticipated invoice costs of all outstanding and maturing funeral plans.

Gareth Howlett, Chair of the Investment Strategy Group, provides more detail on the performance of the investment portfolio in his Investment Report.

Actuarial valuation as at 31 March 2019:

Our Actuary states in his Actuarial Report that the Trust’s assets continue to cover more than 100 per cent of future expected funeral director payments, when taking into account anticipated future consumer price inflation.

Regulatory compliance:

Golden Charter Limited is a Registered Provider with the Funeral Planning Authority (FPA). On an annual basis, Golden Charter Limited submits a Return to the FPA that includes the Trust’s audited accounts and Actuarial Report, confirmation that the Trust complies with the Rules and Code of Practice of the FPA, and a statement signed by the Trustees confirming that there are sufficient funds held in the Trust to meet the obligations to customers and funeral providers.

In June 2018, the government launched a call for evidence on the regulation of the pre-paid funeral plan market to which the Trust contributed a detailed submission. On 2 June 2019 the government announced that its proposed approach was to bring all funeral plan providers within the remit of the Financial conduct Authority (FCA). The Trustees welcome this announcement. The Golden Charter Trust already places great importance on transparency and governance in its role to safeguard the interests of its beneficiaries and fully supports measures to strengthen consumer protection by statutory enforcement. The move to FCA regulation is of course still at an early stage, and we will continue to monitor developments and assess the impact on the Trust as more information becomes available.

Governance:

The Trust’s Audit Committee monitors the integrity of the Trust’s financial statements, reviews internal financial controls including risk management systems, and recommends the appointment of external auditors to the Board of Trustees.

The Trust’s Nominations and Remuneration Committee is responsible for the reappointment of trustees upon conclusion of their specified term of office, identifying and nominating new trustees, and making recommendations in respect of membership and chairmanship of Board sub-committees.

Uplift to plan values and additional maturity payments:

It is the aim of the Trust to pay growth on outstanding funeral plans at a level at least equivalent to the long term increase in the Consumer Price Index. Over the years, our prudent management of the Trust’s funds has allowed the Trust to continue to uplift plan values and deliver sustainable plan pay-outs to independent funeral directors.

The Trustees are pleased to confirm that additional maturity payments, as advised by Golden Charter Limited, will be paid from the Trust to qualifying funeral directors, on each plan maturing between 1 April 2019 and 31 March 2020. The Trust’s ability to continue to pay additional maturity payments from the Trust is reviewed annually in November of each year by the Trustees and is dependent on the impact of investment performance on the funding level of the Trust as advised by our Actuary.

Communication:

The Trustees remain committed to providing clear information about The Golden Charter Trust and the funds we hod on behalf of funeral directors and plan holders.

The Trust’s website is regularly updated with information about the Trust and its Trustees. This information includes Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) that reflects the key questions current and prospective plan holders ask about the Trust. FAQs specifically tailored to funeral directors are available on the mygoldencharter.co.uk portal.

The managed investments of the Trust are held in our subsidiary company, The Golden Charter Trust Limited and the accounts of this company are filed on public record at Companies House.

The Trust recognises the importance of communicating directly with funeral directors who are the beneficiaries of the Trust and the Trust is represented at SAIFCharter’s AGM and at SAIFCharter Executive meetings. The Trust also contributes articles on relevant topics to the monthly SAIF Insight magazine from time to time.

Summary:

Our Board comprises a high calibre of Trustee with a broad mix of skills and experience. This ensures that the Trust continues to be governed in an efficient and effective manner in accordance with the Trust Deed, the duties and responsibilities obligated on the Trustees under Trust Law, and the FPA Rules and Code of Practice.

The Board is committed to safeguarding the assets of The Golden Charter Trust for the long-term benefit of funeral directors and plan holders and I am confident that the Trust remains well placed to meet any challenges and fulfil its objectives.

Finally, I would like to thank my fellow Trustees and the employees of the Trust for their valued contribution, commitment and support over the year.

Ian Blackford,
Chairman