Aegon earnings hit by lower pensions sales

Insurance firm Aegon UK has reported a fall in third-quarter profits following a drop in pensions sales.

Aegon UK boss Adrian Grace insisted the firm had delivered a 'strong set of numbers'. Picture: Jane Barlow

However, the Edinburgh-based firm said the total assets held on its online platform more than doubled from a year earlier to stand at £5.3 billion.

Underlying earnings for the three months to the end of September fell 12 per cent to £19 million, dragged down by a 30 per cent decline in total new life sales, “primarily due to lower demand for traditional pension products”.

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The pensions industry is having to come to terms with rules that mean retirees are no longer forced to buy annuities with their savings, but Aegon UK chief executive Adrian Grace said the Dutch-owned company had seen a “surge” in sales of drawdown products, which allow customers to keep their money invested in the market while taking an income.

He added: “Against a backdrop of ongoing regulatory pressures and a fall in equity markets, we have a strong set of numbers for the third quarter.

“Pension reforms have put the wind in the sails of further platform success with a surge in drawdown sales. Assets in drawdown have increased significantly with considerable growth continuing to push the value of assets up 15 per cent from the second quarter.”

Grace also said that Aegon has more than doubled its sales expectations for its new Secure Retirement Income product, launched in July, which is aimed at people who do not want to buy an annuity but are still looking for a guaranteed income when they retire.