Aegon is a late entrant into the wrap market and is therefore playing catch up with some of its bigger rivals. To address this, it has come up with a couple of interesting strategies.
Firstly, It has decided to focus on the ‘at retirement’ space (a corporate proposition is planned to follow next year).
This focus means functionality and wrappers can be targeted carefully, reducing time to market and cost of delivery. It has also decided to work with an existing platform, Novia, together with an experienced and highly flexible underlying technology solution, Composer, from GBST. These partnerships have drastically reduced the time of getting the solution to market.
Aegon is a substantial company with good financial backing. It has a strong pedigree in retirement planning and a focus on the intermediary market. It has suffered from a regular change of personnel in recent years but appears now to be gaining focus and some stability.
It claims its wrap proposition is a core part of its strategy moving forward and its investment this year, in bringing the proposition to market, would seem to support this.
Aegon has taken clear aim at the ‘at retirement’ market. However, the definition of ‘at retirement’ is quite broad and there is recognition and awareness that ‘retirement’ is often not a fixed point in time but a period within a client’s life.
Much of the functionality on the platform is indeed appropriate for many stages of life but with the focus on the ‘at retirement’ offering comes a specific set of tools, functions and wrappers. Aegon is planning for incremental expansion of its offering and is aiming to provide a solution for the corporate or workplace market some time next year.
For a new entry to the market, the breadth of functionality on the platform is impressive. Indeed, it rivals many of the established players. It offers a series of transactional tools such as illustrations, new business submission, top-up capability and re-registration, but it also offers standalone tools such as an ATR system and asset selector (power by Finex), a portfolio scanner, fund charting and the management of model portfolios. Supporting material and documents stores are also available.
Moreover, there is recognition of the importance of off-platform products in reporting on portfolios and the platform links to Aegon’s other systems to include all products in the portfolio, whether they be on or off platform. Indeed, Aegon includes the off-platform values (of other Aegon policies) in working out from which tier the portfolio charge should be derived.
With the vast bulk of client money now going on to platforms, who really benefits? The client, the adviser or just the platform provider?