Aegon’s pension transfer approach has been criticised as “arduous” and considerably more taxing than other industry leaders.
In an open letter to Aegon’s CEO Adrian Grace, PensionBee founder and CEO Romi Savova highlighted that the company’s transfer process takes over four times the amount of days than that of its peers. It is estimated that the average transfer out of Aegon for completed transfers takes around 54 days, while providers including Aviva, Legal and General, Prudential, Scottish Widows and Standard Life, typically transfer electronically in 12 days or less.
Savova noted that since 8 June 2017, customers looking to transfer out of Aegon to PensionBee faced barriers including: multiple discharge forms, telephone calls and repetitive requests for information that has already been provided. While this process has taken an average of over 54 days, “the true scale of detriment remains unknown” as many members are unable to overcome Aegon’s barriers and some have given up with their transfer endeavour.
The PensionBee CEO highlighted that Aegon’s shortfalls are “extremely puzzling” as the firm readily used electronic processes to transfer policies of over 300 customers to the PensionBee Personal Pension before 8 June 2017. As a result, Savova has requested the “immediate resumption of electronic pension transfers” between the two firms.
In addition, the letter (which was written due to Aegon’s failure to engage directly) also highlighted issues with Aegon’s scam prevention attempts. “I am concerned that bombarding customers with impersonalised pension scam warnings will lead to such letters being considered as red tape. The consequence may be that some people ignore genuine red flags when transferring to an actual pension scam,” Savova noted.
“I do not believe Aegon’s approach to transfers-out is Treating Customers Fairly. It doesn’t help the millions of people who have been auto-enrolled consolidate several small pension pots. As I’m sure you know, TCF’s Outcome 6 requires that ‘Consumers do not face unreasonable post-sale barriers imposed by firms to change product, switch provider, submit a claim or make a complaint,’” she added.
Due to the frustration caused by Aegon’s transfer approach, some customers have begun to or are considering taking Aegon to the Ombudsman for compensation. PensionBee records have indicated that at least 56 customers have already complained to Aegon and some have been compensated due to the firm’s errors.
PensionBee’s letter also provides a number of Aegon customer insights, highlighting their shared difficulty in transferring their pension.
A spokesperson for Aegon said: “Aegon is very much at the forefront of using digital technology to support advisers and connects electronically whenever possible within the bounds of technology and our regulatory responsibilities.
“Having invested heavily in systems to ensure that pensions transfer safely and efficiently, either to another provider or to us, we use a digital transfer service whenever possible.
“Where this isn’t possible we operate appropriate procedures to meet our regulatory and legal responsibilities. Transfer requests from PensionBee are treated in line with Aegon’s due diligence processes, which are in place to meet our legal and regulatory obligations.
“Aegon have reviewed our overall approach in respect of PensionBee and is comfortable that our approach is appropriate.”
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