Aegon has apologised to an adviser whose client was left unable to pay for a £15,000 kitchen as a result of problems with the provider's new platform.
New Model Adviser® contacted the provider to ask what it was doing to address problems advisers were still having with access and functionality. In May Aegon transferred 400,000 Cofunds users to a new Aegon platform.
An adviser got in touch to report that their client had not been able to redeem part of his Aegon (Cofunds) investment bond. The client needed the money to pay for a £15,000 kitchen.
'We're not a massive user of Cofunds but it just so happens we've got a client with a trust who's got a Cofunds investment bond,' said adviser Mike Jordan, director of Jordan Financial.
'Five weeks ago we wanted to withdraw some money from the bond because he'd had a new kitchen and they needed £15,000 to pay for it.'
Jordan said his firm had issued the request for the money but no response came back after a week. Nobody at Aegon was answering the phone either, he said.
'Five weeks on we've even put in a complaint and asked for a copy of their complaints procedure and so on, and actually the client can still not get his money,' he said.
Jordan even alleged that at one point his firm had been promised a copy of Aegon's complaints procedure 'by the end of the day' but it never arrived.
'They haven't sent us a copy of their complaints procedure even though they said they would. It seems like they're in a total mess,' he said.
A colleague of Jordan's told New Model Adviser® that the first time she had rung Aegon to resolve the issue she had simply been cut off. A second attempt ended after she had been on hold for 45 minutes. A further 45 minutes wait occurred before someone finally picked up.
When the firm chased down Aegon to check the status of its complaint, it was told it had only just been noticed five days after it had been received.
A spokesperson for Aegon offered a 'sincere' apology to Jordan, and said that the company was re-directing its staff to deal with the problems.
'We sincerely apologise to Mike Jordan and his client for the delay he has faced and can confirm his issue is being resolved. We acknowledge that the service has been below the standard expected of us,' they said.
'We’re sorry for any inconvenience to those advisers who are either waiting for us to process their paperwork or have spent long periods on the telephone to us. We have redirected more than 200 staff from within the business to support service improvements and they will work with our existing teams to deliver a plan that will see us remove the majority of backlogs in processes and improve service levels.'
'Advisers will see platform improvements every week, with fixes and enhancements made throughout the summer.'
Update on 5 July at 12:22
Following Aegon's apology, Jordan Financial management got in touch to say that they received a call from the company.
Although Aegon could confirm receipt of the relevant withdrawal forms for the bond, they could not give a timescale on the surrender as Legal & General [L&G, which used to own Cofunds] 'will not speak directly to Aegon regarding any of thei rmutual clients, only the financial advisers or client themselves can speak to L&G for an update.'
Jordan Financial Management was given a phone number for L&G which led to an automated service advising either a) an email inquiry (which they had already done) or b) an online contract inquiry, which itself was not possible because the bonds are not serviced online.