Alex Wynaendts, Aegon’s CEO, talks about transforming the company, being relevant to customers’ needs, and the vital role that Aegon plays.
What were the most important changes at Aegon in 2016?
Well, it’s difficult to give just one example because we made a series of important changes across our company. In the US, for instance, we continued our very significant restructuring, bringing all the business units together into a single, customer-facing company that provides our customers with access to all our different products and services. Our UK business also saw tremendous change, as we transformed it from a traditional life and pensions provider into a fee-based business – making it the largest platform provider with over three million customers. Change is never easy, so to do this while improving customer service and satisfaction levels – especially in such an uncertain environment – is something we can be really proud of.
For a lifetime...
For a lifetime goes to the heart of our purpose of helping people secure their financial futureAlex Wynaendts, Aegon CEO
The theme for this year’s Review is ‘For a lifetime’. What does this mean to you?
‘For a lifetime’ is the very essence of what we’re trying to achieve – a relationship with our customers throughout their lives. This is quite the opposite from just offering our customers a product or having only an incidental relationship with them. For a lifetime goes to the heart of our purpose of helping people secure their financial future. It means helping our customers protect themselves financially. It means helping them save for their future. And increasingly, it means helping them to use the assets they’ve built up over their lifetimes to ensure that they are able to retire with peace of mind.
Do your own experiences as a customer with other companies shape how you view the customer experience at Aegon?
Absolutely! I’m no different than anyone else. Be it food, household goods or vacations, I’m a customer every day, and the companies I choose are the ones that understand what is relevant to me and my needs, and what is relevant to my family and their needs. And that’s precisely what we always aspire to: offer high-quality products and services that are relevant to our customers and meet their needs.
In the not too distant past, the financial services industry was not always customer-centric. It defined and dictated what customers wanted, not the other way round. Today that’s simply not sustainable. We’re focused on being relevant, and listening to and learning from our customers. And whether they want simple or sophisticated products, the message is the same: we need to make them easy to understand and easy to access, be it through a third-party or on a digital platform.
customers around the world
of claims and benefits paid out to customers in 2016
assets entrusted to us at the end of 2016
What do you think might surprise people about Aegon and the work you do?
I’m sure many people would be surprised by just how vital a role we – and the industry as a whole – play. Aegon has 26.5 million customers, and I’m proud that last year we paid out €59 billion in claims and benefits to them. While that in itself is a vast sum, it’s dwarfed by the value of assets our customers entrust with us – over €740 billion at the end of 2016. For many people it can be hard to comprehend quite how much money this is. But explain to them that it’s nearly the entire gross domestic product (GDP) of the Netherlands* – the total value of the Dutch economy – and they immediately understand the importance of our work. What’s more, by investing these assets in everything from high-tech ventures to green industries, and by financing debt for governments, we perform a key role in the global economy. We really do have an enormous responsibility, and it’s one we take very seriously indeed.
*Source: World Bank