Aegon has confirmed it will resume electronic transfers to PensionBee, providing it gets “personal assurances” from the directors of the company about key aspects of transfer process.
In a statement Aegon says: “We are seeking assurance from PensionBee that they always capture clear authority from clients to carry out the transfer, and that they provide appropriate warnings and information to customers to ensure they understand any features within their current policy which will not be replicated within the PensionBee pension.”
It says concerns about these issues were identified by the due diligence process. This led to electronic transfers being withdrawn in June last year.
Aegon’s statement adds: “In such circumstances we put in place additional checks to ensure the customer is fully aware of what is happening. These measures are particularly important where customers are not receiving a personal recommendation from an adviser.”
Transfers have proceeded since then using paper application forms.
In a very public spat, PensionBee, wrote an open letter to Aegon’s UK chief executive Adrian Grace accusing the company of blocking hundreds of pension transfers and putting up “barriers to switching”. It claims that since electronic transfers were withdrawn it has seen delays to 874 Aegon transfers, worth £18.4m
PensionBee is also understood to have raised concerns about this issue with the FCA.
In response Aegon has claimed PensionBee’s public campaign on this issue is “entirely inaccurate and misleading to consumers”.
PensionBee’s chief executive Romi Savova says: “We are delighted that Aegon has finally chosen to listen to the voices of around 900 impacted consumers.”
Savova added that the company formally gave the assurances sought by Aegon.
She adds: “We trust Aegon’s direct-to-customer business Retiready has the same policies in place. We look forward to immediate resumption of electronic transfers.”
PensionBee pointed out that Aegon had allowed transfers to proceed after 8 June, but these were hugely delayed as they required paper application forms.
During this period PensionBee has calculated that the average transfer from Aegon took 54 days, with the most protracted case taking 214 days. This compares to an average 12-day transfer from rival providers using the electronic Origo system.