Aegon’s 2022 IGC report confuses me. I thought it’s 2021 report- covering 2020 was very good. The report was the only one that properly laid out the charges paid by employers relative to the size of the employer – this really helped employers work out if they were being short-changes. The report was decisive and progressive.
This year’s report is also decisive and quite critical of Aegon, but the important information on employer driven member charges has gone. And the report ignores the instruction of the FCA to provide benchmarking of scheme and cost reporting relative to other schemes. It tells us that it has access to the information but the report chooses not to share it.
My confusion is about why the inconsistencies, and why the wilful refusal to compare Aegon with others. The decision is surprising because Aegon – at least it’s former BlackRock book, continues to do very well relative to its peers.
Value for Money Assessment
The report actually is titled value for money and sub-titled “delivering what matters to you”.
Instead of delivering what people actually want to know – how Aegon’s helping them – relative to other providers – the report is full of stuff we don’t really want to see, like 30 pages of appendices on costs and charges and a section on Aegon’s customer base which tells the reader nothing.
As regards performance , we are given a bizarre assurance that Aegon customers can expect good returns in the future based on assumptions from Redington. Frank Redington was a man who prized transparency, instead of 30 pages of transaction costs, wouldn’t it have been better to see Redington’s analysis?
Quite clearly Aegon is delivering value for money, so why can’t its IGC reassure its readers of this by telling them what the outcomes of low charges and exceptional performance are! This is what I call wilful perversity, it is most odd.
I want to give the report a green for its value for money assessment , but am shy of doing so as the report grabs defeat from the jaws of victory. It gets an amber.
A highly critical report – suggesting an effective IGC
The IGC report is also odd in taking Aegon to task for its service proposition. My experience of dealing with Aegon in Edinburgh, along with many other firms, has been poor. This is from the Chair’s opening remarks, the back of the main body of the report is a series of slides detailing the failings of the Aegon support units. The Aegon operation in Peterborough, formerly BlackRock, is altogether better but this distinction cannot be drawn from the report
Whereas the IGC is loath to share information on investments , it is happy to share the bad news on administration
Sorting things like this out , does matter to us and the best section of the report is the list at its end of the various matters it is taking Aegon to task on(pages 49-51)
Ian Pittaway , the IGC Chair is a meticulous lawyer who pays attention to detail. I am happy to give the report a green for being effective in its member’s interests.
Style and tone
Ian Pittaway, like Lawrence Churchill at Vanguard, is a very good writer. The report flows beautifully and is clearly an expression of the chair.
Take this beautifully crafted threat!
The final sentence really gives Aegon no excuses going forward.
The report gets a green for style and tone.
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