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Aegon platform's two-stage plan for the future

Aegon platform's two-stage plan for the future

Aegon has a two-stage plan to improve its platform for advisers, according to its chief distribution officer, who said the state of the platform was “unacceptable” for a period of time.

Ronnie Taylor said there have been significant outflows from the platform in the year since the botched replatforming but he believes the pace of these is slowing.

Clients withdrew £1.4bn from the Aegon platform in the third quarter of 2019, following outflows in the two preceding quarters, which eventually led to the departure of the company’s managing director for retail, Andy Coleman, who left the firm on February 26.

Mr Taylor, who will take on a number of responsibilities from Mr Coleman, said he has plans to develop the platform in two phases.

He said: “Andy was a stalwart of Cofunds and of Aegon. He had said a while ago he wanted to move on to something outside of the financial services industry, but he wanted to stay on until the platform was in better shape.

"We have been fortunate that advisers have been patient and have stuck with us. The state of the platform at one time was unacceptable, but there has been a slowdown on exits lately.

"The outflows in Q4 2019 are lower than Q3 and Q2 of 2019, while so far in 2020 they are lower than in 2019.”

The first stage of development involves work on what he called “service improvements”, such as improved transaction history, money in and out, and reporting. 

The second stage involves adding investment trusts and ETFs to the platform, which was supposed to have happened a while ago, but will now “be added next year or the year after.”

Mr Taylor said Aegon would seek to become a bigger part of an adviser's daily business. 

He said: “We want to be offering a broader range of services to make it almost a frictionless experience, almost as though we are non-exec within an advice firm.”

Aegon acquired the Cofunds platform in August 2016 but its later attempt to move the client base to its own platform resulted in a wide range of issues, with clients unable to access basic functions on the site for months. 

By June 2018 efforts to solve the issues had cost the company an additional £3m.

Such were the problems that many advisers were due compensation. An Aegon representative said the process of compensating affected advisers has been completed but they declined to comment on the total cost of the compensation. 

david.thorpe@ft.com 

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