Aviva and Aegon address claims over platform woes

Aviva and Aegon address claims over platform woes

Aviva and Aegon have responded to claims the reason recent large-scale technology upgrades on platforms have failed was because of confusion among management, staff changes and bad governance.

Ben Hammond, principal consultant of platform consultancy Altus, said part of the problem underpinning the recent replatformings carried out by Aviva and Aegon, which both suffered complications and service outages, was project management.

He said: "The timetable to do a replatforming properly is it takes two years, sometimes people try to do it in less time, but that is how long it should take.

"The problem is, they decide at the start of the process the way they are going to do it but during the two years, you have people changing roles, and new people come in, or people change their minds, as opposed to sticking to the original vision. That change is confusing and leads to problems."

Mr Hammond said he expects platforms that are owned by larger groups to continue to struggle for profitability in the future. 

He expects to see more partnerships between platforms and product providers, rather than the wave of consolidation forecast by many in the industry.

Mark Polson, principal of consultancy firm The Lang Cat, said there was not any one answer as to why platforms often get it wrong.

He said: "Quite often what happens is the tech firm charged with doing the replatforming say ‘we can do this in this much time for X’ and that’s fine, but as the work happens, people in the platform ask can they have this or that functionality, and the tech guys say sure, and that complicates it.

"Then you have a situation where advisers say to a platform, ‘we would use your platform if it did X or Y', now really what is happening is the adviser has no intention of using the platform, they just said that to get the sales guy out of their office, but the sales guy goes back and says to his boss, we need the platform to do X or Y."

When these claims were put to an Aviva representative, the provider's spokesman said these considerations were not a factor in its replatforming. 

Mr Polson said: "Then the second issue is that as someone progresses their career in the industry they get further from the adviser or client, and that means decisions about what defects are acceptable, or about whether to launch the platform, are made by people far away from the end client.

"Generally that is where the problems are, rather than with the actual technology providers."

A representative of Aegon said: “Every project of this kind has its own set of individual circumstances. We’ve undertaken a thorough review and are clear on the root causes of the issues we've faced.

"Our focus is on improving our service and operational performance along with improvements in our online journeys to ensure that we can meet advisers’ and customers’ expectations."