Aegon has rejected allegations from PensionBee that it has blocked hundreds of requests to move small pots electronically.
An open letter dated 31 January from PensionBee chief executive Romi Savova to Aegon UK chief executive Adrian Grace makes several allegations.
Savova alleges that, since 8 June 2017, customers wishing to transfer out of Aegon to PensionBee have “faced barriers to switching”.
She goes on to write that the average transfer out of Aegon for completed transfers now takes around 54 days and that 600 people are currently unable to transfer.
Savova added “this is all extremely puzzling” as Aegon transferred over 300 customers to the PensionBee personal pension before 8 June 2017.
Regarding her reasons for writing the letter, Savova continued: “I have opted for an ‘open letter’, as Aegon will not meaningfully engage with us despite direct letters to you, your independent governance committee and various other Aegon employees.
“I point out that our chairman, Mr Mark Wood, has repeatedly offered to meet you in Edinburgh to discuss this matter but has been rebuffed – indeed on one occasion, a planned meeting was cancelled without notice.”
She added: “Aegon’s arduous transfer approach for our mutual customers is out of line with its peers, who enable customers to switch their pensions quickly and safely to their chosen provider.
“Our experience in completing over 10,000 transfers is that best-in-class providers, including Aviva, Legal and General, Prudential, Scottish Widows and Standard Life, typically transfer electronically in 12 days or less.”
However, a letter from Aegon UK chief risk officer Jim Ewing to Savova dated 11 January rejects the allegations. It said: “There are a number of points in your letter we would dispute, but they have no bearing on our approach to pension transfers.
“We do reserve our right to take action as appropriate should you publish inaccurate statements about Aegon.”
When Money Marketing contacted Aegon, a spokesman adds: “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.”