Platform  

Aegon reveals impact of 'game changing' year

Aegon reveals impact of 'game changing' year

Inflows into Aegon’s platform business reached almost £2bn last year following the takeover of platform giant Cofunds.

The insurer's UK arm posted earnings before tax of £18.6m in the final three months of the year, a marked turnaround from the £4.5m loss it made during the same period in 2015.

Assets in its platform business jumped by £7bn over the year to reach £13.4bn, marking record growth after the company bought platform giant Cofunds.

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This platform growth was driven by a combination of new business and buoyant stock markets, but was largely a result of 160,000 existing pension customers moving across to the platform as Aegon looked to provide them with a "digital pension".

Platform inflows amounted to £1.9bn in the final three months of 2016, up by £900m compared to the same quarter in 2015.

Adrian Grace, chief executive of Aegon UK, said there has been “a lot of momentum” behind the Cofunds deal, which completed on 1 January. 

“We’ve already had productive discussions with users of both Cofunds’ and Aegon’s platforms via our advisory board,” he said, adding Aegon has recently launched an adviser panel to collect feedback from a wider group. 

He said it was “encouraging” that the firms plans to combine Aegon and Cofunds have been well received.

The business also saw its customer numbers jump, reaching 440,000 from the 243,000 posted back in 2015.

Aegon's protection arm, which is a core part of its proposition, saw sales increase by 11 per cent over the quarter, up from 7 per cent in the same period last year.

Mr Grace described 2016 as a “game-changing” year for Aegon.

“By selling our annuity book and acquiring both Cofunds and BlackRock’s DC platform, the business has a very clear focus.” 

The Aegon UK boss also pointed to the pension freedoms and the uncertainty currently haunting the investment markets, which he said has increased the demand for finance advice on transfers from defined benefit schemes.

“Against this backdrop our goal is to help advisers and other intermediaries meet this demand by offering the best tools and service and by not competing for distribution, we believe we’ll be successful.”

Aegon will aim to outline how it will deal with the timings of its technology upgrade when the advisory board next meets in March.

This will focus on improving functionality to both sets of by creating an enhanced version of the Aegon platform. 

Cofunds users will benefit from a reduction in paper and an integrated pension, for example, while Aegon users will benefit from features like pre-funding and debit card transactions.

katherine.denham@ft.com