Aegon’s financial advice arm is to become a “key focus” for the pensions giant following its latest restructure, a move commentators have branded a “sensible” plan likely to “drive assets”.
The firm recently informed employees it would be merging its existing business and digital solutions arms to create one single business encompassing pensions, investments and protection.
Currently Aegon is split between its digital solutions business — the platforms and its protection arm — and existing business, which primarily consists of old off-platform products.
They are run by different management teams but Aegon’s email to staff revealed a managerial overhaul which will see its managing director for platform solutions, Mark Till, take over the new, single business.
Its national advice group Origen meanwhile is to become a “key focus” in the future business.
Advisers said the move made sense from Aegon's perspective as it would provide the firm with a sales force which would help funnel assets into its platform and fund range.
The move mirrors what has been happening elsewhere in the industry, where financial services providers that shunned their advice arms after the Retail Distribution Review have been creeping back into the advice space as the vertical integration trend ramped up in the hunt for profit.
Tim Harvey, director of HR Independent, said: “It makes a great deal of sense for Aegon to work on its linked advice firm. It’s a fantastically profitable outlet by driving up the assets under management.
“That will really be the name of the game. Even if the advice side itself loses money, they’re putting money onto the platform it makes a phenomenal amount of sense.”
Darren Cooke, chartered financial planner at Red Circle Financial Planning, agreed. He said other big providers had “focused on building an advice brand” so it made sense Aegon would want to do the same.
He added: “All providers must eye Quilter — who have millions pouring into their funds from their advice network — and think 'we'll have a bit of that’.”
Advisers did not appear concerned about the potential competition from Aegon’s apparent advice focus however.
Tim Morris, IFA at Russel & Co, said IFA firms would continue to offer an invaluable service to clients providing they could “burden the increased regulatory costs”, noting that Aegon had the “size and scale” to make an advice venture work.
Aegon’s restructure will also see Dougy Grant, currently managing director of existing business, hold the new role of operations and service director.
A spokesperson for Aegon said: “Our recent update to employees was designed to outline the key themes Aegon would focus on as a business.
“We will be outlining more on our strategy later this year but the themes we’ve communicated set a direction of travel.”
The managerial overhaul will see Ed Dymott, managing director of transformation, innovation and growth, leave the firm alongside customer services director, Emily Shepperd.