Setting ourselves up for success
For adviser use only
It’s early days, but bringing together Aegon and Cofunds is proving to be a fascinating experience.
We’re in the same sector, so as you would expect, the market understanding is there. But what’s struck me the most is that we’re highly complementary firms and are already very culturally aligned.
Aegon is a young platform offering straight-through, paperless processing and strongly focused on pensions. Cofunds is one of the industry’s most seasoned players, offering a breadth of investment proposition and supporting advisers of all types, and doing it at significant scale. The different paths taken by our people and the respective knowledge they have are heavily informing the next steps of our integration and forging teams that are excited to learn from one another.
Bringing together two such different platforms is also enabling us to be highly discerning about which aspects we offer to our customers.
To take one small example, we’ve recently been doing a lot of work on customer journeys and the user experience. As part of this, we looked at what Aegon and Cofunds currently offer an adviser when they’re meeting clients to talk about their portfolio. We found that Cofunds offers the best tools in terms of portfolio analysis and dynamic charting. On the other hand, Aegon is very strong on reporting features and data suites.
So we’re bringing these features together, enabling the adviser to configure what they want to see in their client reports.
It’s definitely a case of the ‘best of both worlds’, focused on removing complexity and unnecessary process.
Another example is that many Cofunds advisers have asked for online trading when transacting for existing clients. We’re looking to go one better and do away with top-up forms for existing clients altogether. Instead, the adviser will simply enter the existing customer’s name, detail the amount and the investment, and submit.
We’re also looking to simplify product charging structures, making it easier to move cash across product wrappers to pay charges in the most tax-efficient manner. We’re introducing shares, investment trusts and exchange-traded funds – but at the same time, we’re also looking to provide simple off-the-shelf investment options and portfolio building blocks for investors with straightforward investment needs.
A completely configurable online dashboard is also in the pipeline, so advisers can choose what they see when they log on – whether that’s status updates, warning flags or their most recent transactions.
Earning adviser support
When we asked advisers recently via our online Advisory Panel about their views on Aegon and Cofunds coming together, over three quarters of Aegon users said they were confident the investment would bring benefits to themselves and their customers.
However, some felt they needed to wait and see before passing judgment, putting the onus on us to demonstrate how we can integrate these two platforms, their technologies and their people to create a truly best-in-class offering.
The result, we are confident, will be the platform of choice for every advisory firm that’s ambitious about growing its business, increasing profitability and harnessing powerful, intuitive technology to help deliver the best outcome for every customer.