Bullish start for new Aegon UK chief as annual earnings rise

Mike Holliday-Williams has taken over the helm from long-serving chief executive Adrian Grace. Picture: Contributed
Mike Holliday-Williams has taken over the helm from long-serving chief executive Adrian Grace. Picture: Contributed
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The new boss of Edinburgh-based Aegon UK said the firm was “incredibly well placed” to lead in its core pension markets after a transformation that has helped boost annual profits.

Mike Holliday-Williams, who has taken over the helm from long-serving chief executive Adrian Grace, praised the decision to reposition the group from a traditional life company to “a modern, digital platform business”.

Unveiling full-year earnings of £122 million for 2019, up from £110m a year earlier, he said: “After joining in October of last year, I have spent my time getting to know colleagues across our business as well as our key advisers, customers and corporate clients.

“I can clearly see that the decision to reposition Aegon from a traditional life company to a modern, digital platform business means that we are incredibly well placed to lead in the retail and workplace markets and deliver on our mission to help customers achieve a lifetime of financial security.

“As it stands today we have the largest savings platform business in the market. Our recent focus has been on increasing our investment in the functionality and service we provide in order to move towards our goal of providing the best proposition for advisers, employers and their customers.

“We are uniquely positioned in the UK market in that we offer a complete range of adviser and workplace savings, retirement solutions, investments and protection products in one place that can be accessed by our customers at any stage in their lives.”

Assets

His comments came as the latest results also revealed underlying earnings of £61m for the second half of 2019.

The total value of assets that the firm manages on behalf of nearly four million customers reached £179 billion, while platform assets rose to £146bn.

The number of customers in Dutch-owned Aegon UK’s “digital solutions” workplace business grew by 24 per cent over the year while new business including regular premiums was up by 47 per cent compared with 2018.

The Aegon Retirement Choices division enjoyed a solid performance “despite market headwinds” and a reduction in defined benefit pensions business.

Holliday-Williams, formerly a managing director and member of the executive committee of Direct Line Group, added: “Our existing business, managing our established pension plans, continues to provide a strong contribution to the business through good retention levels and its 1.3 million customers will benefit from the increased investment in proposition and service that our partnership with Atos will deliver.”

In 2018, Aegon sealed a 15-year contract with Atos to service and administer the accounts of some 1.3 million non-platform customers. It said at the time that the same teams supporting the existing business would remain in Edinburgh.

READ MORE: Change at top for Aegon UK as CEO Adrian Grace announces retirement