Personal Pension 

Aegon under fire for poaching clients

Aegon under fire for poaching clients

Two advisers have blacklisted Aegon after it made what they claim were calculated attempts to take the client relationship direct to the detriment of customers.

The accusations follow previous poaching claims made by advisers dating back to 2013.

Matthew Duncan, from Invest Southwest, filed a complaint with the pension giant last month, saying it locked him out of his client’s details and ignored repeated requests for information.

He only realised there was a problem when he called Aegon on 1 March and was told he was not entitled to the information as the client was listed as an orphan and had been passed on to Aegon’s direct client business.

Mr Duncan said the act flouted Treating Customer Fairly rules by frustrating advisers’ attempts to give clients the correct advice, in “a grab for [my] business”.

A spokesperson for Aegon said the company was investigating Mr Duncan’s case. They said his client had been “accidentally transferred” in an upgrade programme, where customers in old-style pensions are moved to a lower cost products on its platform.

“Customers with an active adviser aren’t considered for upgrade. Any customer who is accidentally transferred can be returned to the same position as before and our adviser records will be updated to reflect their correct status,” they said.

Aegon has repeated come under fire for client poaching.

Chris Neil, an adviser at Harvest Associates, told Financial Adviser his firm used to write millions of pounds worth of business with the provider, but since discovering it had removed 30 of his clients from his agency without informing him about 18 months ago, he said “I pretty much do not deal with [Aegon]”.

Mr Neil said Aegon is acting on a “disingenuous” questionnaire on its website, which asks customers if they are advised without warning what will happen if they say ‘no’.

Carl Melvin, planner at Affluent Financial Planning, claimed Aegon bypassed him in June 2014 and went direct to the client.

“This is a cultural issue – [Aegon] don’t see advisers as an important element in the relationship,” he said. “We are trying not to use Aegon now.”

According to the Financial Conduct Authority, it is not against its rules for providers to contact advisers’ clients directly.

But advisers accused Aegon of “arrogance” and risking client detriment.

An Aegon spokesperson said: “Our intent is to help the relationship between advisers and their customers, though we accept that our systems have not always done so in these examples.

“We are actively improving our online systems to ensure advisers can access their customers’ information and we are looking at how best we can help advisers in this process.”

ruth.gillbe@ft.com

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