The Kingston Unity Board

The members of the Board of Kingston Unity are responsible and experienced people from all walks of life who are passionate about the future of the Society and the benefits it provides for members, and who are also committed to mutuality. In addition to the Board meetings, there are also sub-committees who deal with Audit, Risk, Remuneration, Nominations, Investment and With Profits Management.

Rob Edwards - Chair of the Board of Kingston Unity Friendly Society

Rob Edwards – Chairman

Rob joined the Board in June 2014 and took on the role of Chairman in August 2015. He also chairs the Society’s Nominations Sub Committee.

Rob graduated from Leeds University with a BSc Honours degree in mathematics in 1977 and has worked exclusively in Financial Services for nearly 40 years, principally with Friendly Societies. After holding various senior roles with a larger financial services firm, including an Executive Director position for 15 years, Rob is now semi-retired.

Ben Pears - Chief Executive Officer of Kingston Unity Friendly Society

Ben Pears – Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

Ben joined the Society in January 2017, returning to his Yorkshire homeland following a sabbatical working in the south. He has over 20 years financial services experience and has worked for some of the largest companies in the UK.

As CEO, Ben takes executive responsibility to deliver on the Society’s strategy and objectives set by the Board. He is a qualified Investment Manager, Financial Adviser and holds a Certificate in Marketing.

Graeme Charters – Non-Executive Director

Graeme became a Board Member in May 2015 and is Chair of the Society’s Risk and Remuneration Sub Committees. He graduated in Actuarial Science at City, University of London, and is a qualified actuary.

Graeme has undertaken a number of actuarial and wider management roles, most recently acting as a consultant actuary for financial services firms and societies.

Kate Wright - Non Executive Director of Kingston Unity Friendly Society

Kate Wright – Non-Executive Director

Kate became a Board Member in May 2013, having been a member of the Society since childhood and holding the role of Branch Secretary. Kate undertook the role of the Society’s Direct Channel Manager from 2016 to mid-2018 and focused on attracting new members to the Society. Kate holds a degree in Media Studies and Business Management with Finance.

Kate has an extensive understanding of the ethos and values of the Society and is a key voice when building the Society’s strategic vision for the future.

Tim Watson - Non executive Director of Kingston Unity Friendly Society

Tim Watson – Non-Executive Director

Tim was elected to the Board in 2010, having been a member of the Society for significantly longer.
Tim has been Secretary for Lord Nelson Lodge since 2002 and offers an invaluable knowledge of the rules and expected conduct of the Society.

Tim holds a degree in History and has had a varied career across a wide range of industries.

Peter Darragh - Non Executive Director of Kingston Unity Friendly Society

Peter Darragh – Non-Executive Director

Peter was elected to the Board in 2010 and during his tenure has held the position of Chairman of the Board. Peter sits on the Audit Sub-committee and Investment Sub-committee. Peter also advises the Society on matters involving Data protection and IT regulation.

Peter studied Economics at Durham University, Management at Durham Business School and Law at Newcastle. Peter specialises in regulatory, IT and commercial law.

Bernard White - Senior Independent Director of Kingston Unity Friendly Society

Bernard Nelson – Non-Executive Director

Bernard joined the Board in 2015 and is Chair of the Investment Sub-Committee and With Profits Sub-Committee.

Bernard studied mathematics at the University of Manchester and is a qualified Actuary, being a Fellow of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries. Since commencing work in 1988, Bernard’s career has focused on providing investment consultancy to pension schemes and companies.

Bernard White - Non Executive Director of Kingston Unity Friendly Society

Bernard White – Senior Independent Director (SID) & Non-Executive Director

Bernard joined the Board in 2015 and is Chair of the Audit Sub Committee. He fulfils the Senior Independent Director (SID) role for the Society, working with the Chairman, Directors and Chief Executive to ensure the smooth running of the Society. He is responsible for being an escalation point for members, who may wish to raise issues or concerns to the Board.

Bernard qualified as a Chartered Accountant with KPMG and has spent his 30-plus-year career in the financial services industry.

David Grant - Kingston Unity Non Executive Director

David Grant – Non-Executive Director

David has over 30 years’ experience in the financial services industry. He has held a variety of senior positions, to Board level, in Banks, a Building Society, Pension Funds and in a Life & General Insurance Company. In his more recent professional career, he now operates as an independent consultant specialising in sales & marketing, business transformation and people development.

He is a strong supporter of mutuality and is currently a non-executive director of Stafford Railway Building Society.

Our Diversity Policy

The Society adopts a diversity policy that applies to the operation of the Board and all our Sub Committees. The policy includes the selection and recruitment of Board members which is overseen by our Nominations Committee. This is to ensure that discrimination and stereotyping play no part in the process.

The Society’s policy is to recruit purely on merit alone and is free from bias on the grounds of factors such as age, disability, gender, sexual preference or race that are not relevant to the person’s ability to fulfil the role.

The Society does not adopt specific diversity targets related to Board composition. New appointments are made based on objective selection criteria highlighting the specific skills and experience needed to ensure a rounded Board. However, the Society also recognises and values the differences between people and understands the positive benefits for our members of employing a diverse range of talented people on our Board. Therefore we will always try to ensure that the recruitment process is as expansive as possible to encourage applications from a diverse range, whilst ensuring the required skill sets are likely to be covered as well.

A team dedicated to our member-first ethos and implementing the strategic vision of the Society

Learn about the KU Head Office team

Please Note: You must confirm you have read the key facts, before downloading this document.

Key Facts about our services and costs

1. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)

The FCA is the independent watchdog that regulates financial services. This document is designed by the FCA to be given to consumers buying certain financial products. You need to read this important document. It explains the service you are being offered and how you will pay for it.

2. Whose products do we offer?

We offer products from the whole market

We only offer products from a limited number of companies

We only offer our own products

3. Which service will we provide you with?

We will advise and make a recommendation for you after we have assessed your needs.

You will not receive advice or a recommendation from us. We may ask some questions to narrow down the selection of products that we will provide details on. You will then need to make your own choice about how to proceed.

We will provide basic advice on a limited range of stakeholder products and in order to do this we will ask some questions about your income, savings and other circumstances but we will not:

  • conduct a full assessment of your needs;
  • offer advice on whether a non-stakeholder product may be more suitable.

We can only offer products from Kingston Unity Friendly Society. These products will enable you to:

  • protect yourself and your loved ones in the event of death
  • save and invest with the added benefit of protecting yourself and your loved ones in the event of death
  • provide benefit cover in the event of sickness

4. What will you have to pay us for our services?

Normally, if you buy a financial product direct from us, there will be no payments such as commission or fees payable. If there are any commission or fees payable, we will tell you how we get paid and the amount before we carry out any business for you.

5. Who regulates us?

Kingston Unity Friendly Society, 9 Navigation Court, Calder Park, Wakefield, WF2 7BJ is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and .the Prudential Regulation Authority. Kingston Unity Friendly Society’s FCA Registered Number is 110056.

Kingston Unity Friendly Society permitted business is advising and arranging life assurance and pensions business.

You can check this on the FCA’s Register by visiting the FCA’s website or by contacting the FCA on 0845 606 1234.

6. What to do if you have a complaint

If you wish to register a complaint, please contact us:
…in writing Write to Kingston Unity Friendly Society, Complaints Department, 9 Navigation Court, Calder Park, Wakefield, WF2 7BJ. …by phoneTelephone (01924) 240164

If you cannot settle your complaint with us, you may be entitled to refer it to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

7. Are we covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS)?

We are covered by the FSCS. You may be entitled to compensation from the scheme if we cannot meet our obligations. This depends on the type of business and the circumstances of the claim.

Most types of insurance business are covered for 90% of the claim with no upper limit.