McMahon jumps ship as he quits Friends Prov for Aegon

Aegon has poached Friends Provident's director of corporate business in a move that triggers the departure of Andy Marchant, brother of Scottish & Southern Energy chief executive Ian.

The shake-up is the latest in a string of changes at the Edinburgh-based insurer, which last summer unveiled a restructure that will see costs cut by a quarter by the end of 2011.

Paul McMahon, who left Friends Provident yesterday just six months after joining the insurer, will become UK group marketing director at Aegon later this year, reporting to chief operating officer Adrian Grace.

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Marchant has been life and pensions marketing director at Aegon since October 2008. He will leave later this month, a year after the shock departure of Feilim Mackle, the life and pensions chief who appointed him.

The targeting of McMahon, who has been developing a corporate "wrap" for Friends Provident, reflects Aegon's decision last summer to focus solely on the "at-retirement" and workplace pensions markets. McMahon joined Friends Provident last year after its owner, Resolution, bought Axa Life, where he had been responsible for corporate pensions business and the development of its wrap platform.

Aegon wants McMahon to lead its marketing effort ahead of next year's reform of the financial advice market, under the retail distribution review (RDR).

Otto Thoresen, chief executive of Aegon UK, said McMahon's experience in the investment wrap and platform markets fitted well with Aegon's change of direction. This is an exciting appointment, which represents an important milestone as we progress with our new strategy," he said. "Aegon's ongoing commitment to the UK market will be underpinned by a commitment to developing exciting talent, bringing in specialist skills where required, and targeting growth opportunities.

"RDR will bring significant change to our market and the changes we are making to our business now will ensure we are one of the winners," added Thoresen.

McMahon claimed Aegon's refocused strategy presented "significant opportunities" for the business. "I'm delighted to be moving into this transformational role with a company recognised as one of the key players in the UK market," he said.

The appointment reverses a series of high-profile departures from Aegon UK's Edinburgh headquarters. Peter Williams, head of industry development, Rachel Vahey, head of pensions development and Francis McGee, head of corporate affairs are all leaving the firm as it folds its regulation, pensions development and corporate affairs teams into a single regulatory analysis and political affairs unit.

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