Aegon has bought a minority stake in ROMEO Financial Services, a startup that provides back-office services for financial advisors. ROMEO also has a new franchise concept in the pipeline for mortgages and insurance.
ROMEO specializes in mortgage and residential services, with a focus on advanced digitization. It adds value by making clever use of online technologies to improve and accelerate work processes. Financial advisors can then focus on their core business: providing financial advice and delivering outstanding customer service.
Aegon takes an 'omni-channel' approach to distributing products. This means that customers can choose how they interact with the company; through a broker, a bank, in person, by phone, digitally, or by other means. Customers can then seamlessly switch between channels, meaning they can start a transaction in one channel, complete it in another, and experience a smooth transfer of information.
While Aegon continues to simplify its products, the importance of our services and the nature of lifelong investment mean that many customers will continue to seek face-to-face advice and a fast response. Our investment in ROMEO and our continued investment in digitization supports this.
Hybrid distribution model
In the second half of 2016, Romeo will launch a new hybrid distribution model based on a franchise concept. This model will operate as a hybrid of fully face-to-face and fully digitalized online advice. The service will be a combination of a smart digital process and strong personal advice with advisors throughout the country, as well as transparent fees.
Through leveraging Romeo's technology, combining activities, and increased scale, Aegon will make a number of processes around mortgages more effective, potentially reducing costs.
In its recent strategy update, Aegon put innovation high on the agenda. The recently launched Center of Excellence for Digital is an example of this. The Center will speed up the sharing of digital best practice across global operations. They are also focused on developing digital talent internally with the successful pilot of a global data analytical academy.
Speeding up digitization
Minority stakes in carefully selected FinTech startups are another tool being used by Aegon to accelerate its innovation pipeline. According to Robert van der Tol, a member of the Board of Aegon Netherlands, "ROMEO is a young, ambitious company with a strong and experienced management. Like us, they believe that we can help our customers through the clever use of technology. We're particularly interested in the way that ROMEO is supporting independent intermediaries to assist customers more effectively and efficiently."
Martin Keegstra, a founder and director of ROMEO, also sees opportunities from the deal: "With Aegon on board we can accelerate our plans and grow faster. In addition to providing further working capital, Aegon is a partner with significant knowledge about mortgages and other financial products. This perfectly complements the rich experience we bring as founders. Aegon gives us, as entrepreneurs, the opportunity to perform to our optimal level."
FinTech success stories
Aegon accelerates its (digital) transformation by working closely together with FinTechs worldwide. Since 2014 we have taken stakes in innovative companies through our venture fund Aegon Ventures we develop start-ups and we form strategic partnerships. By working closely together with innovative partners we get clearer insight in our own future as a financial service provider. This enables us to offer our customers the products and services they really need.
ROMEO was founded in 2015 by Martin Keegstra, Edsel Earl and Paul van der Meijs; financial professionals who gained their experience with key Dutch brands such as Which, Florius, Hypotheker and GMAC.