PENSIONS group Aegon UK is planning to create more than 100 jobs at its headquarters in Edinburgh to support the “unprecedented” growth of its online service.
The firm, which last month revealed that the closure of all six of its regional sales offices had pushed it into the red during the second quarter of the year, is seeking senior management for its Aegon Retirement Choices (Arc) platform, along with specialist investment administrators and business analysts.
Chief operating officer Tommy Young said Arc, which allows financial advisers and their customers to manage their investments over the internet, has gone from “strength to strength” since its launch last year and the recruitment drive will take the firm’s workforce in Edinburgh to more than 2,000.
He added: “We’re committed to building digital saving solutions for our customers, which they find simple, rewarding and reassuring to use.
“Our platform is central to this commitment.”
The jobs boost for the capital’s financial sector comes after rival Standard Life said earlier this month that it was looking for almost 50 extra customer service staff to cope with a rise in new business on the back of the retail distribution review, which has abolished commission payments to financial advisers.
Aegon’s UK headcount has almost halved to about 2,100 since the start of 2011 as part of a strategy to slash £80 million off its annual running bill.
As well as closing the regional sales offices at a cost of £27m, the Dutch-owned firm sold its Positive Solutions financial advice business to Intrinsic Financial Services in June, booking an £18m loss on the deal.
Although those charges pushed the group to a pre-tax loss of £11m for the second quarter, from a £59m profit a year earlier, chief executive Adrian Grace insisted its underlying performance remained strong, with new business sales soaring 45 per cent to £247m.
Young, who oversaw Aegon’s cost-saving programme, said regulatory changes such as auto-enrolment, which compels employers to provide pension schemes for their staff, would provide more opportunities for growth.
He added: “These roles present a fantastic opportunity to play a part in the success of a key area of the business from an early stage, while also offering the chance to build a career working with leading-edge digital technology.”
A recent report from pensions consultant Lang Cat, which earlier this month lured media relations chief Mark Locke away from Aegon, claimed Arc was the UK’s most expensive platform, charging £540 a year for an investor with a £100,000 portfolio – compared with as little as £98 at Alliance Trust Savings – but Grace said he believed customers were willing to pay a “premium” for the service.
Aegon runs about 31,000 group pension schemes and in July it replaced rival Standard Life on a panel of “preferred suppliers” chosen by financial services consultancy Mercer to offer pensions and other savings products to employers.