Aegon’s Mark Till has said the merger of Aegon and Cofunds should help to bring down the price of the platform over time.
Speaking to FTAdviser, Mr Till, who is chief distribution and marketing officer at Aegon, said he believed Cofunds was the “perfect purchase” after it bought the platform for £140m in August 2016 from L&G.
“We think after quite a long period of underinvestment in that business [Cofunds], there’s quite a lot we can add to the party,” he remarked.
“Obviously, with its scale combined with Aegon’s scale and the BlackRock business we bought last year we think we can bring significant benefits, both confidence about ownership, about investment in the user experience, but also in bringing the price of the platform down over time,” he added.
He acknowledged one of the biggest challenges when doing a deal like this was to ensure that advisers who use the platform on a daily basis do not experience any “hiccups in the service”.
“To try and manage that we introduced the advisory board and we also introduced an online advisory panel for hundreds of advisers to be able to contribute what they want the new platform to do and how they want us to develop the business they so rely on,” Mr Till explained.
He emphasised the merger was not a replatforming exercise, but rather a technology upgrade which made it easier to quantify cost.
“A replatforming exercise typically involves building a new platform from scratch and that is a very significant undertaking,” he pointed out.
“In our case, we’ve got an established platform – a platform that can already cope with the volume of users that Cofunds are bringing to us and what we need to do with our platform is upgrade it so that it provides some features and services we didn’t have before and we need to move the customer data onto it.”
Last month, Aegon revealed it would overhaul Cofunds’ adviser services, with advisers able to personalise the platform.
Mr Till suggested Cofunds users would see some significant enhancements when the platforms are integrated.
“So you’ll see a much wider investment choice, you’ll see an integrated pension and you’ll see many, many more processes that don’t have to involve so much paper.
“Later on, Aegon will then get a further swathe of benefits, for example debit card payments, enhanced investment functionality,” he noted.
Turning to pension transfers, Mr Till said he hoped the Financial Conduct Authority would give more guidance and therefore more confidence to advisers “to be able to offer advice to what is clearly a changing set of customer circumstances”.