Letter: Aegon bypasses IFAs to take clients in-house

Carl Melvin

The letter asks the client to clarify whether the IFA is still his adviser and to email or call to confirm this.

According to the letter, if the client does not do so, the IFA will be removed from the policy. Aegon UK made no attempt to contact us, as IFA, to confirm we still acted for the client and chose not to copy us into this direct approach letter – one can only speculate on the reasons for not doing so.

We called Aegon UK to ask for an explanation and were informed that as we had not called Aegon UK for plan information nor accessed their website in recent months, this letter was sent to the client. We explained that we do not need to contact them for plan information as we have price feeds, and up-to-date plan details held on record. They informed us that they will write to all clients where the IFA has not had direct contact with Aegon UK in the last year.

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We expressed our concern that we felt this behaviour was unethical and a clear ploy to transfer agency to their in-house advisory team. We believe that they are in denial that this approach is improper.

Carl Melvin

Certified & Chartered Financial Planner

Affluent Financial Planning

Bridge of Weir, Renfrewshire

Right to reply

An Aegon spokesperson said: “We are writing to a small number of customers to ensure we know if they have access to ongoing advice. Since the implementation of RDR and in line with the broader market we have received an increased number of calls from customers looking for information in relation to policies. During these conversations we have established whether customers are still receiving advice and where they are not we have removed servicing rights. Over this period, we have received very few complaints from advisers that we have acted incorrectly – around 1 in 1000 cases. This gives us confidence that our approach is not removing serving rights where there is ongoing advice and ensures that Aegon act on the duty of care they have to customers.

“We have written to 1% of customers where our records show there has been no contact for 12 months or more on our systems. We take a broad view of contact and any adviser contact on a plan, whether it be by letter, email, phone or via our extranet should appear on our records.

“It is up to advisers and clients to agree how regularly they should talk to one another. We recognise that a lack of adviser contact with Aegon on a plan in the last 12 months does not necessarily mean that there is no ongoing adviser relationship – that is why we have taken the step of writing to these customers to give them the opportunity to confirm their adviser relationship is still in place and why we will make further contact with advisers if a customer has confirmed they do not have a relationship or has not responded within 28 days. At this stage, advisers will have the opportunity to query the decision and adviser agency will be reinstated, subject to confirmation from the customer.”