The Partnership Podcast

SAIF and support with Jim Auld

February 14, 2020 Golden Charter Season 1 Episode 3
The Partnership Podcast
SAIF and support with Jim Auld
The Partnership Podcast
SAIF and support with Jim Auld
Feb 14, 2020 Season 1 Episode 3
Golden Charter

National SAIF President Jim Auld, coming to the end of his presidential year, talks about the importance of trade association membership, the events lined up for this year's SAIF AGM in Glasgow, and the support on offer for funeral directors.

Show Notes Transcript

National SAIF President Jim Auld, coming to the end of his presidential year, talks about the importance of trade association membership, the events lined up for this year's SAIF AGM in Glasgow, and the support on offer for funeral directors.

Malcolm Flanders [00:00:04] Welcome back to the Partnership Podcast. This time, we want to get a key funeral director's view on the profession. Jim Auld is the National SAIF President, in addition to running James Auld Funeral Directors in Helensburgh, western Scotland. In his work as president and in his own business, Jim has been an exemplary ambassador for the funeral profession. And in recent times he has been keen to embrace the opportunities the internet has brought. With the SAIF AGM on its way, I sat down to talk to Jim about his presidential year and the future of the profession. 

Malcolm Flanders [00:00:44] So, Jim, delighted you're with us today and thank you for joining us. So with one month left to go, how has your year as President been? 

Jim Auld [00:00:53] Thank you, Malcolm, for your welcome. The last year, in one word, has been busy, but it's really been very, very enjoyable. It's been great to connect with all the different trade associations at the NFE last year, which was very successful. But probably one of the best things of my year has been attending the Cremation Society CBCE conference last July, down in Southampton. Really, the cemeteries and crematoria are our key supplier and we should probably engage and network with them better. That was probably one of the highlights of the year.

Jim Auld [00:01:32] I think it's great to have met so many independent funeral directors up and down the country, of varying sizes, and from the smallest doing maybe a few dozen funerals a year, to some that are doing into their thousands. And basically, we're all doing the same job and we're integral parts of our local community and caring for our families in these communities. 

Malcolm Flanders [00:02:02] And in your travels – and I know you've travelled extensively in the UK, you and I met a few times – what's encouraged you most about the profession from your perspective? 

Jim Auld [00:02:15] I think the standards that we as independent funeral directors on the whole give our families, you know, we're all trying to achieve the best for our families and putting our families foremost. We're seeing a lot about industry disruptors and price cutting from some of the bigger groups and some of the low price chains, but really, these lower costs can only come at a cost to the service that we offer to our families. 

Malcolm Flanders [00:02:46] Thank you. Now, as I said, it is only a month away from the SAIF Annual General Meeting in Glasgow. Any thoughts as to what we can look forward to? 

Jim Auld [00:02:59] I think just the way that the profession is at the moment, it's in a kind of limbo, because in the pre-paid funeral side we're waiting on the FCA results and all that coming in. And we're also waiting on the at-need review by the CMA. So at the moment, I think it's just almost going to be a holding AGM, but it's actually making our members aware that there are going to be big changes around the corner. It's getting them geared up to know that these changes are coming and actually accepting it. I think a lot of people said, "oh, it will never happen," but these things are very real and they are going to happen. 

Jim Auld [00:03:36] Also during the weekend, which is in Glasgow on the 13th to the 15th of March, on the Friday afternoon we've got an education session, which is very much about suicide awareness and funeral directors. And I think that will be a hard event, but worthwhile, because we all sadly come across these deaths from time to time. 

Jim Auld [00:03:59] We'll hopefully have some time for some Scottish hospitality at the Grand Central and hope to see as many of our members there supporting us. And if you get there early enough on the Friday evening, there's possibly a whisky distillery tour as well. 

Malcolm Flanders [00:04:14] Sounds good. And any words of advice for Mark Porteous taking over from you? 

Jim Auld [00:04:22] Just don't have any holidays and just concentrate on your whole year at SAIF. I'm looking forward to holiday after this is all over. 

Jim Auld [00:04:31] It's been it's been a busy year, but it's been an absolute fantastic. The amount of people that I've met that have become friends and that will stay friends, I'm sure forever, because of this has just been incredible. And it's been a fantastic opportunity to promote the independent funeral directors and SAIF and what we do, and also to support Golden Charter as well. 

Jim Auld [00:04:59] I've really enjoyed all the opportunities that the role has given me and I'm incredibly proud to have been only the second national President from Scotland, the first being the late Andrew Harvey, who is one of the founders of Gordon Charter. I always thought that if I could be half as good as him as a funeral director, I'd be doing okay. 

Malcolm Flanders [00:05:21] Excellent. Thank you, Jim. Well I and, I know, many other funeral directors across the land think you've done a cracking job. So well done. Looking forward to the AGM. 

Malcolm Flanders [00:05:28] Now, Jim, in the past year, Golden Charter has been successful in bringing a lot of funeral directors into the trade association fold. In particular, with dozens joining SAIF for the first time. As SAIF president and a SAIFCharter member, you yourself reflect the close bonds between the two organisations, so given what we know is happening over the next year or two, why is it so important to belong to a trade association then? 

Jim Auld [00:05:56] Well, Malcolm, it's so important to be a member of a trade association because we are there not just to enhance standards amongst our members, but also to give reassurance to the public that our members are complying with a code of practice, they've got professional standards, their facilities behind the scenes, that not everyone sees, are at recognised standards.

Jim Auld [00:06:25] SAIF in Scotland, for example, they made a membership rule that to be a member of SAIF in Scotland, you had to have refrigeration. And that is absolutely essential in today's climate, where funerals now take place a week to 10 days after death, whereas in my early days it was within two or three days. 

Jim Auld [00:06:46] So things like that. It also gives members of the public reassurance that we are meeting a standard, because so many people don't realise, as of yet, funerals are unregulated throughout the United Kingdom. And I think that's something that I found in our local community, with being SAIF president, because it's brought a bit of recognition to what SAIF is in our local community. 

Malcolm Flanders [00:07:14] Okay. Thank you. And if – because I've met one or two funeral directors across the UK who are still a little reticent to join a trade body – if there is anyone out there that has still some doubts, would you be happy to speak to them direct? 

Jim Auld [00:07:29] Absolutely. I'd be more than happy to speak to them, give them the reassurance, and I think it's going to be a natural stepping stone to things that are going to be required, statutorily required, by law. And I think that, you know, this is going to be a natural progression, because when things become statutory, there will be no choice. 

Jim Auld [00:07:54] And that said, I think SAIF will be absolutely paramount at supporting us, along with Golden Charter on the FCA side of things with funeral planning. The Area Business Managers will be absolute fantastic supporting the funeral directors throughout the country. 

Malcolm Flanders [00:08:17] Great. Thank you, Jim. So, in fact, you've just mentioned it, so I just want to pick up on that point then. In terms of the way we have supported you, you mentioned the area business manager there. The managers across the United Kingdom that we have supporting funeral directors are there specifically to support. So from your perspective, how useful has that been for you and how do you want to use that support going forward, particularly now as you come off your year of being national president? 

Jim Auld [00:08:47] Well, Rosie has probably found it quite difficult to catch up with me quite a lot over the last year or so. So I'm not saying that she's given up trying, but she's just always touched base and said that once the year's over, we'll get down to doing some of the things, perhaps a wee bit of digital marketing, setting up a Facebook page for the business, because I really only tend to use social media for personal at the moment. And there's the business reviews, they're constantly able to tell you how you're progressing and your sales, where they would like you to be at with sales. I think we'd all want to sell more plans, and I think that they're there for things that are going to become more regulatory. And I think they'll be an invaluable tool, along with your bank manager, your accountant and your lawyer. I think they'll be an integral part of the business. 

Malcolm Flanders [00:09:49] And I know Jim in your own business, you tend to see your families when you're having the conversations around funeral plans. Had you thought, is there any other way that you might consider using Golden Charter, just in terms of your own business? Maybe it's training some of your staff, because sometimes you're not there? How do you deal with that problem? 

Jim Auld [00:10:12] I'm a bit of a control freak, I like to actually sit down with all families that we’re arranging and I think obviously larger companies, they'll need to probably just have one dedicated person in the future that's doing it, so that we're all trying to be as compliant and aware of the public's needs and their expectations of us when we're selling this high value product. 

Jim Auld [00:10:44] Some people say it's not a financial services product, it's as a product you're buying. And I think that's probably right. But there's absolutely no doubt it's to be under control and scrutiny of FCA. So we have to move forward on that. And it does worry me that, you know, there is the potential for someone that could be classed as vulnerable, and I'd like to think that there's an element of consistency within each business, if there's only key people that are selling funeral plans. 

Malcolm Flanders [00:11:17] Okay. And that's a good point actually, Jim. You just reminded me to mention that a Goldenews has recently gone out with our own policies on treating vulnerable customers, as well as treating customers fairly. So to our listeners, that is a good read, an essential read. We'll give you some guidance on what the expectations are, even though I know funeral directors have been handling vulnerable customers for many, many years in the past. But there's a formality required now. 

Jim Auld [00:11:49] Absolutely. And I think it's definitely, you have to sit and when you're arranging a funeral plan, I know that I always tell a wee bit about Golden Charter, the company and the Trust and in particular how well funded the Trust is. And if everyone was to die tomorrow there's enough money to cover all funerals in the trust. I think that's absolutely paramount when you're selling a funeral plan and that's one of the first things that I say when I'm selling a funeral plan. Just to give them that absolute reassurance that they can then go ahead and research, do any further research that they want to, or perhaps it gives an opportunity to ask further questions on it. 

Malcolm Flanders [00:12:36] Quite, just give themselves comfort. 

Jim Auld [00:12:39] It's all about peace of mind. And that's the whole reason that funeral plans were set up, that  families would have a piece of mind, not just for the financial side of things, but their actual funerals would be carried out with the way that they would wish. 

Malcolm Flanders [00:12:54] No, I get that. Okay, Jim, brilliant. Thank you for that. And I will let Rosie know that you are contactable again, although you probably need a holiday first. So I will deal with that.

Jim Auld [00:13:05] That's it, definitely. Thanks. 

Malcolm Flanders [00:13:08] Brilliant, Jim. Thank you very much. I appreciate that. 

Jim Auld [00:13:10] Thanks, it's been a pleasure.  

Malcolm Flanders [00:13:13] Thank you for listening to another episode of Golden Charter's Partnership Podcast. We'll be hearing from more funeral directors and key figures in the coming months, keeping you up to date with the changing profession. If you have any questions or suggestions, why not contact me on [email protected] And watch out for future editions wherever you get your podcasts or at Take care and I'll talk to you next time on the Partnership Podcast.