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Crunch time for Aegon and PensionBee transfer spat

Crunch time for Aegon and PensionBee transfer spat

An ongoing public dispute between Aegon and fintech provider PensionBee may be finally coming to an end as FTAdviser can reveal the firms have reached an agreement over due diligence concerns.

In a statement sent to FTAdviser this morning (9 February) Aegon disclosed the reason it has delayed pension transfers to fintech provider PensionBee, in the latest twist in a six month long spat between the firms.

The provider has called on the fintech firm to provide formal assurances over its handling of the transfers.

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In particular Aegon wants details on whether clients were well informed about the products, and potential guarantees within them, that they will give up should they transfer out.

PensionBee responded saying it was happy to provide the reassurance and looked forward to an immediate resumption of electronic transfers.

Since August the two firms have been embroiled in an open dispute, with PensionBee accusing Aegon of employing systems which were directly targeting it, and making life more difficult for PensionBee customers.

It also alleged Aegon had refused to transfer to PensionBee using electronic transfer service Origo from June last year.

In an open letter to Aegon's chief executive Adrian Grace, dated 27 January, PensionBee's founder Romi Savova accused the firm of causing detriment to clients.

But Aegon hit back saying there were a "number of points" made by PensionBee "we would dispute".

PensionBee retaliated by launching a live online tracker showing the number of customers being “caught up in the deliberate transfer delays”.

The tracker showed as at today 874 customers were stuck between the providers with £18.4m pension assets trapped.

The longest transfer had taken 214 days to complete, it showed.

In today’s statement Aegon said the transfers were subject to enhanced due diligence checks to “ensure the customer is fully aware of what is happening”.

“These measures are particularly important where customers are not receiving a personal recommendation from an adviser,” the firm stated.

It said its due diligence process looked at a number of aspects, including the nature and set up of the receiving scheme, and “clear evidence the customer knows what they are undertaking including the loss of potentially valuable product features”. 

An Aegon spokesperson said: “Aegon completes the vast majority of pension transfers electronically within an average of 10-12 days to the satisfaction of many thousands of our customers. 

“The electronic transfer process was initially available to PensionBee, but was withdrawn because of potential issues identified by our due diligence process.”

He added: “We view PensionBee’s public campaign as entirely inaccurate and misleading to customers.”

Aegon said it wrote to the directors of PensionBee yesterday asking them to provide it with assurances on the transfer process. 

“We are seeking assurances from PensionBee that they always capture clear authority from clients to carry out the transfer, and that they provide appropriate warnings and information to customers to ensure they understand any features within their current policy which will not be replicated within the PensionBee pension,” the firm said.