Regulatory approval has led Legal & General Investment Management and Aegon to confirm the closing of the deal announced in August 2016 that will see the Cofunds business transferred into Aegon’s own platform – affecting some 750,000 customers and their financial advisers in the UK.
Integration of the business is expected to be completed by the second half of 2018, however Aegon has already set up an “Advisory Board” that includes 20-30 financial adviser firms, and which is tasked with providing guidance to the development of Aegon’s existing platform to maximise the benefits intended through the acquisition of Cofunds. The Board met for the first time in December, and the discussion included input from users of both the existing Cofunds and Aegon platforms, as well as other platforms. The Board has heard that existing users of the Cofunds platform want further reduction in use of paper, and benefits from straight through processing such as reduction in manual errors.
Adrian Grace, Aegon chief executive, said the deal would transform the company from a traditional life company to a platform business, that is focused on serving financial intermediaries. The integration of Cofunds into the Aegon platform will be done with an eye to technology upgrades, which means adding functionality and data rather than just shifting customers and users over to a different platform.
Existing Cofunds users are set to gain access to a wider range of product types, including ETFs, investment trusts, shares and an integrated pension proposition. Users of the Aegon platform are set to gain from existing Cofunds features such as pre-funding of trades, debit card acceptance and a better investment selection process. These features are set to roll out in the second half of 2017, according to Aegon, which also said that Cofunds will continue to be led by David Hobbs and be run from its headquarters in Witham, Essex, with operational staff also located in Hove, East Sussex (UK).
Aegon in the UK has some 2 million customers for its retirement, workplace savings and protection solutions.