The Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs has scored Aegon 186 out of a possible 200 in its 2016 Transparency Benchmark, up from 185 points in 2015. This is well above the financial sector average of 121.
Aegon has maintained its position in the Transparency Benchmark Leader category, but due to significant improvements made by companies both inside and outside the financial services sector, Aegon's relative position dropped from 12th in 2015 to 21st position out of 512 this year.
Leaders' scores and ranking
The annual Transparency Benchmark, carried out in cooperation with the Netherlands Institute of Chartered Accountants (NBA), assesses the content and quality of corporate sustainability reports published by Dutch companies in the Netherlands.
The Transparency Benchmark is highly regarded because it not only reviews the content, but assesses the quality of the information contained in the report. As a result, and due to a detailed questionnaire, the benchmark is able to minimize the chance that companies adopt a 'checklist mentality'.
The assessment criteria, divided into eight categories, are drawn from over 40 examples of best practice sustainability reporting from around the globe. Aegon scored the maximum number of points available in three of these categories: Management Approach, Responsiveness, and Coherence. Scores improved slightly in the areas of Policy and Results, Reliability, and Responsiveness, but Aegon acknowledges that there is still room for improvement.
The adoption and integration of a responsible business statement into the company's 2016 corporate strategy update, along with clearer communication of changes to its sustainability policies and objectives, contributed to the improved score this year. Furthermore, Aegon is confident that clearer and more measurable sustainability targets will continue to improve its transparency rating.
For some time, Aegon has been working to improve transparency around tax, and made a significant step forward with the publication of its Global Tax Policy earlier this year. As a next step to enhance tax transparency in its public disclosures, Aegon plans to inform stakeholders about the company's Total Tax Contribution. This will enable Aegon to communicate about all taxes paid – both those borne by the company and those collected on behalf of others – in its Annual Review.
Over coming weeks Aegon will take recommendations from Transparency Benchmark judges on-board, and will conduct a thorough review of top-rated Integrated Reports, to identify where further improvements to its own report can be made.