Aegon is to enhance its existing Aegon Retirement Choice (ARC) platform while it migrates its recently-bought Cofunds clients to a brand new ARC-based platform.
Aegon, which has now completed its £140m deal with Legal & General to buy Cofunds, as first announced in August, said both the Cofunds and Aegon platform will be enhanced by using the best features of each proposition.
Users of the platforms will remain on Aegon's two existing 'to be enhanced' platforms until the third, new platform is created and launched - which will be a hybrid of both the current Cofunds and Aegon platform, based on the latter - at which point all users will eventually be migrated to the newly-made service. Aegon said it would start rolling this out from the second half of 2017.
"This means that benefits can be brought to advisers quickly through enhanced functionality without the need for revisiting suitability or work in the intermediaries back office," Aegon chief executive Adrian Grace (pictured) said.
Advisers would also benefit from greater functionality under the approach, he added.
For instance, from the second half of 2017 Cofunds users will have access to a wider product range, including the use of exchange traded funds, investment trusts, shares and an integrated pension.
In turn, those who currently use the Aegon platform will benefit from existing Cofunds features such as pre-funding of trades, debit card acceptance and an improvement to the investment selection process, Grace said.
The move followed research by CoreData in August, which found two-thirds (67%) of advisers were concerned about reduced levels of service from consolidating platforms.
Advisory board 'supportive'
Aegon said it had met with its new "advisory board"- a group made up of about 30 advice firms of all sizes - for the first time in December, when it explained its intention to combine parts of the Aegon and Cofunds platforms through a technology upgrade approach, rather than a traditional re-platforming exercise.
Aegon also told its advisory board it would place a "significant emphasis" on furthering its digital service and reducing its use of paper.
According to Grace, the advisory board was supportive of the firm's approach. "By discussing our approach and progress with intermediaries from the outset we aim to deliver a platform that they feel invested in for the benefit of their business and their clients," he said.
"While we recognise that we have a big task at hand which needs to be handled with care, it represents a fantastic opportunity to work with intermediaries to shape the future of the platform industry," he added.
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.
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