Our operating environment

Economic conditions, geopolitics and social factors can have an effect on our profitability, operations and reputation. We cannot always control what happens in our operating environment but we can be prepared. This starts with identifying the biggest issues affecting our business. We call these our material issues.

We are a global company with many stakeholders. We have the potential to have an impact on the people, the countries and the economies in which we operate. We make every effort to ensure this is a positive impact.

Materiality assessment

Material issues are important to our business. They inform our strategy and also determine our approach to reporting. We define material issues as those that will have a significant long-term impact on our profitability, our operations or our reputation.

To determine the issues that are most material to us, each year we ask independent consultants Steward Redqueen to survey our stakeholders and our senior management. This includes the trends and issues that we believe can, or will, have an impact on our business1 – everything from climate change and responsible tax, to low interest rates and digital transformation. We then ask the respondents to identify these issues and rank them in order of importance. The results are plotted on our materiality matrix (which you can see below). The issues that are most relevant to both our stakeholders and our senior management are then identified as our material issues. A summary of the materiality matrix results is then shared with both our Management Board and Supervisory Board for their review and discussion.


Our stakeholders are a broad group that include customers, employees, investors, financial analysts, sustainability analysts, peers, government, regulators, independent experts, academics and NGOs. They are asked to participate in the materiality survey on the basis of geographical balance and representation. In addition, participants who are familiar with Aegon and the financial services sector were sought. We also try to include some of the previous year’s respondents to ensure results are comparable.

To provide an accurate representation, stakeholder groups receive a weighting in the overall results. For example, customers and employees are more heavily weighted than academics and independent experts. Peers and industry associations are more heavily weighted than NGOs or stakeholders from government or regulators. This year, 241 individuals from 29 organizations and ten stakeholder groups provided their views on what they think matters most to Aegon.

*Source: Steward Redqueen

Ability to control or influence

Direct control
Issue is entirely within the company’s control.

Shared control
Control of the issue is shared with, or exercised through, another company, organization or third-party.


Strong influence
Company has ability to influence the issue within its own businesses and value chain.


Some influence
Company has ability to influence, but only within its own businesses (not its wider value chain).


No influence
Company has little or no meaningful control or influence over the issue.


1Please note, the focus of our materiality assessment was on non-financial issues. Due to the nature of our business and the maturity of our financial reporting, we have not included financial terms as part of this assessment. Financial impacts/externalities are also part of changing capital requirements, low interest rates and economic and financial uncertainty.

Material issues

Our leadership takes all these issues seriously. However we do identify some as ‘Key material issues’ – which are areas of focus. We highlight and discuss these seven key material issues throughout this Review. These issues are seen as current and potentially future trends in our operating environment. Whether we have direct control over these or not, they continue to have a strong influence on our business. Customer experience, attracting talented employees, and the others are discussed in this section.