Edinburgh's Aegon UK posts hike in third-quarter profit amid journey to net zero

Aegon UK, the Edinburgh-based financial provider, has hailed “good progress” in its latest quarter with a sharp jump in profits.

The Dutch-owned group, which has some 2,000 people working in the Scottish capital, reported a 57 per cent year-on-year increase in its third-quarter operating profit to £44 million.

This was driven by higher fee revenues as a result of “favourable” equity markets, a provision release and lower expenses.

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Mike Holliday-Williams, chief executive of Aegon UK, said the business remained in transition but added that he was pleased with the “positive momentum” seen in the latest three-month period.

Aegon UK with its Edinburgh Park offices is a major capital employer with some 2,000 people in the city. Picture: Greg MacveanAegon UK with its Edinburgh Park offices is a major capital employer with some 2,000 people in the city. Picture: Greg Macvean
Aegon UK with its Edinburgh Park offices is a major capital employer with some 2,000 people in the city. Picture: Greg Macvean

“We have made good progress,” he added. “There is still a lot to do but we continue to invest in the business.”

He also noted that the firm was making headway with its plan to be a new zero investment business by 2050.

The latest figures showed that net outflows amounted to £2.5 billion, compared with £1.3bn in the third quarter of 2020.

For the retail business, there were net outflows of just £53 million, whereas the third quarter of 2020 showed net outflows of £420m. This improvement was the result of “stronger retail investor sentiment” and reflected investments made in the business, Aegon noted.

Net outflows for the group’s institutional business amounted to £1.8bn, compared with the £1.3bn of net outflows in the same period last year.

Holliday-Williams said the firm had lost one large institutional client while the Q3 update noted that the institutional business was low-margin and deposits “can be lumpy”.

For “traditional” products, net outflows amounted to £328m, which was in line with expectations as a result of the gradual run-off of this book, the firm added.

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In the third quarter of 2021, addressable expenses decreased by 2 per cent to £86m. This was driven by lower contractor costs, but was partly offset by increased expenses for outsourced services.

Holliday-Williams said the firm, which has a large base at Edinburgh Park, would remain flexible on staff working practices as more people look to return to the office.

At a group-wide level, Aegon reported a net loss of €60m (£51.4m), reflecting a €470m one-time charge as a result of management actions to release capital.

Aegon group chief executive Lard Friese said: “In the third quarter of 2021, we continued to drive our transformation forward by delivering on our financial and strategic commitments.

“Performance improvements across most of our businesses, supported by the disciplined execution of our operational improvement plan, were offset by elevated mortality in the United States.

“This quarter’s operating result reflects the benefit from addressable expense savings that we have achieved so far.”

He added: “As we look back at the third quarter, I also want to take a moment to recognise our 22,000 colleagues who are driving Aegon’s transformation.

“The pandemic has fundamentally changed the way in which we work and the way we interact with our stakeholders. And while the way we interact may have changed, our colleagues remain committed to transforming Aegon into a high-performance organisation.”

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