Analysing The Performance Of Aegon Group Business Essay
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AEGON Group is world leader in financial services business which provides life insurance, pensions, long term savings funds and investment services and products. AEGON Group has 30000 employees and serving over 40 million customers globally. AEGON Group provides services and products over twenty five countries globally United States, United Kingdom, Europe and Asia. By 1994 AEGON started relationship with Scottish Equitable, which was very popular and well known name in the United Kingdom as a financial service industry. Scottish Equitable founded in 1831. By 1998 AEGON had taken complete control of Scottish Equitable and Scottish Equitable was rebranded as AEGON Scottish Equitable in 2006. After two years the Group extended its businesses in the United Kingdom and bought life insurance operations of Guardian Royal Exchange. AEGON main customers are United States, United Kingdom and Netherland. AEGON withdrew some business from Belgium and Greece, also general insurance from the United Kingdom market and healthcare sector from Netherland. The Group also sold its stake in FGH Bank and merchant bank Labouchere. The result was a more efficient and better concentrated organization. AEGON playing very important role in its markets just not in United Sates, Netherlands and United Kingdom but also in new markets of Asia, and central part of the Eastern Europe as well. AEGON is listed on the stock exchanges of Amsterdam, London, New York and Tokyo.
Task -1: Explore the background to change affecting the current organization.
P -1.1 Discuss the background to change that exists in today economy.
Change is a powerful force or an engine that drives many segments of our economy. Mostly forces of change provide us as contractors with new projects to build and older buildings to modify or amend. Changing is truly the lifeblood of our businesses and our economy. The forces of change are also more subtle and pervasive as its affect our economy, our businesses, our jobs and even our daily lives as well. We might easily recognize changes as progress in physical world of production, but maybe we fail to recognize other forces in our economy, our businesses, our jobs and even our personal lives. Failure to recognize force of change can only lead in downward spiral to lower efficiency, lower profitability, lower productivity and lower personal in-effectiveness. Change is continuous adoption of organization strategies and structures to changing external environment. Today change is ongoing process in our economies, our businesses, and our lives.
Change that exists in today's economy
The competitive pressure forced the changes bring into our economy. There are several major forces for changes that exist in today economy and financial sectors. These forces are:
Personal behaviours changes
Changes in turn started the industry globalization
We can see incidents in past changes the businesses and economic environment which is responsible for changes exist in current economy.
Bureaucracy effect in our organization and economy because management were use resources to person needs rather than organization goals. Max Weber "saw bureaucracy as the most rational and effective mode of organizing the activities of large numbers of people because it ensured decision-making according to general rules rather than the whims of officials, cultivated trained "experts", and reduced the possibilities of corruption and nepotism". Weber, M., (1979): Economy and Society, in: Journal of an Outline of Interpretive Sociology, Volume 2
The global economic crisis that started in the US in 2007 and spread around the world in 2008 was preceded by large imbalances in global capital flows. The economic crisis has changed world economy during the past year alone, slowdowns economic growth. The IMF says this represents "By far the deepest post-World War II recession" with an actual decline in output in countries making up 75% of the world economy"
BBC News. (April22, 2009): (Online). Available at: www.bcc.co.uk
"The evidence shows that ignoring climate change will eventually damage economic growth. Our actions over the coming few decades could create risks of major disruption to economic and social activity, later in this century and in the next, on a scale similar to those associated with the great wars and the economic depression of the first half of the 20th century. And it will be difficult or impossible to reverse these changes. Tackling climate change is the pro-growth strategy for the longer term, and it can be done in a way that does not cap the aspirations for growth of rich or poor countries. The earlier effective action is taken, the less costly it will be". NICHOLAS STERN, STERN REVIEW: THE ECONOMICS OF CLIMATE CHANGE - LONG EXECUTIVE SUMMARY ii (2006)
Economy growth slowdown, unemployment is up, house price fall down and these changes, changed people mindsets and their spending habits in order to survive this difficult time. "Managers across the UK, meanwhile, have accepted their own redundancy as "inevitable", according to the Chartered Management Institute". Those factors are cause to a lot of stress for us all our society and individually.
There also "In near past the world economy was not good even before September 11.Synchronized growth slowdowns - and in the case of recession in Japan - were already under Way in the US, Europe and Japan, while developing countries were facing weaker export demand and increasingly difficult financing conditions. After the shock of September 11 have changed the picture, increasing the already significant downside risks to world growth"
Fischer, S., October 18, 2001: International Monetary Fund.
32nd IAFEI World Congress, Cancun, Mexico
The Changes in the political environment is also one factor to change in today economy. "It is difficult to say that these changes are simply short-term reactions to a major shock or amount to new and worrisome trends. At the very least, the balance between political and economic forces has been significantly altered. Because political support for globalization was at best shallow while the global economy was in a buoyant state, this suggests the pendulum is now swinging in the opposite direction. Against this background, two lessons from history are worth keeping in mind. One, dismantling protections takes time. It took several decades for many of the trade barriers erected during the interwar period to be brought down. Second, even if a important part of the progress in liberalizing trade in recent times has been institutionalized and strong reversals à la 1930s are not likely, the downward spiral of protectionism acts fast".
Ferry.P.J& Santos.I, (March2009). F&D: Volume46, Number1
The technology is posing major challenge to today's economy that is information technology. The information technology of the computer and internet services has and will continue to changes the economy. "In the world of economics, globalization is reflected in the increasing the acceptance of free markets and private enterprise as the principal mechanisms for promoting economic activities. Its growing importance is captured in such indices as trade in goods and services, private capital flows in different forms, foreign investment, information technology transfers, operations of transnational enterprises, business travel and communication, and migration and remittances"
Dunning, J. H. (1993): The Globalisation of Business. Routledge, London.
As "Labovitz & Rosansky" point out personal behaviour "Psychologists have long recognized that human beings like people who are like themselves and tend to reject people who are different from them. So far organizations continue to create changes between people interest of efficiency. Line versus staff, management versus labour, field versus corporate, internal versus domestic, East versus West, accounting versus sales- the list goes on. No wonder it so hard to focus people around familiar goals when they are so different from each other simply by virtue of what they do and where they do it. Specialization and knowledge can be a wedge that drives people future apart and makes it difficult for them to work together"
Price, A., (2007): Human Resource Management. 3rd Ed, p281
"Several commentators have drawn attention to the analogy with the effects of natural disasters - like the Kobe earthquake in Japan - that barely show up in the national accounts. It is the indirect effects that will matter most, in particular, in the short-term much depends on the effects on consumer and investor confidence and spending, which were already under strain and have been strained further by the attacks"
Fischer, S., October 18, 2001: IMF, 32nd IAFEI World Congress, Mexico.
AEGON UK chief executive Otto Thoresen says "The economic environment is challenging but we have a strong team to take us forward through the next phase of our development"
Many changes affected the AEGON, UK environment in recent years. These are few changes;
In the UK, life expectancy has increased in recent years hence people can expect to be retired for longer. In many cases, individuals have not planned properly for retirement and there may be a shortfall in the amount of money available. AEGON UK have introduced new less expensive pension schemes or insisted on employee pension contributions where they did not in the past.
"In an economy closed to external equity investors, such as the UK before 1979, the decline of defined benefit pensions would have been a disaster. The cost and availability of equity capital would have reflected the reduced flow of funds into the equity market. This potential concern became irrelevant as a consequence of the lifting of exchange controls and the globalisation of capital flows, which made the market more efficient while putting downward pressure on the cost of capital". Plender, J., (2010): The pension's shake-up herald's equity demand change. The Financial Times
The government pensions were very small and also government want to decrease the dependency on the state in old age. The government also have introduced private pension schemes to deceased the dependency on the state.
Pension funds are increasingly being asked by politicians, non-governmental organizations, campaigners, and pressure groups to mobilize their financial clout more actively and to take their responsibilities as corporate owners more seriously. The chances are it could change from being "asked" to being "required." Fraser, I., (2010): Pension funds search for climate change risks and opportunities
Falling vales of shares
The current economic downturn situation affected the company shares values, which reduce the returns on the customer's investment. Customers getting less than they were expected for their investment, also people had a negative impact on pensions as well.
AEGON is in competition with other organisations which are selling directly to customers and those competitors also well known in United Kingdom. Also AEGON has had very poor reputation in the insurance and pensions industry in recent years.
P -1.2 Evaluate the strengths and weakness of the organization.
The strengths of an organization are those things that it does particularly well, especially when viewed against the operations of its competitors and also its weakness areas in which it is less strong than the competition.
¨ AEGON had historically been successful
AEGON had historically been successful but government imposed price controls had reduced profitability. Compared to its competitors, AEGON was not well known by consumers. It had developed good products and services and had a good reputation with distributors, particularly in the area of pensions which were a key strength of Scottish Equitable.
¨ Developed good products/services
AEGON developed a range of products and services to individuals, corporations and institutions. Most of these products and services fall into one of the following three categories:
Long-term savings and investments products
¨ Good reputation with distributors
Compared to its competitors, AEGON is well known and had a good reputation with distributors, particularly in the area of pensions which were a key strength of Scottish Equitable.
¨ Customer focused organisation
AEGON UK is a customer focused organization as AEGON CEO (Otto Thoresen, 2009) pointed out that "We work to help keep customers needs /wants at the heart of all developments and to make sure that financial service industry works with customers to give them what they want/need and we offer the best products and services from their point of view".
¨ Reflecting local knowledge and global power
Scottish Equitable is now AEGON Scottish Equitable - reflecting both local knowledge and global power. All the brands now bring a new common look which is refreshing and different.
¨ AEGON provide the levels of return promised
AEGON UK Ltd is also providing the levels of return promised and being responsible for any risks associated with doing so.
¨ Provide products/services different levels of income for the consumers
AEGON Ltd have contractual measures in place to help those customers who find themselves on low incomes and, often through no fault of their own, are unable to maintain premium payments. These measures include introducing lower premium payments, grace periods and loans or, in some cases, reducing the coverage offered by a particular policy.
The weaknesses of the organisation are matched to the opportunities and threats that may affect the organisation and which come from the external environment.
¨ Not well known by consumers in the UK
AEGON was not well known by consumers. It had developed good products and services and had a good reputation with distributors, particularly in the area of pensions but not well known directly by consumers.
¨ Had poor reputation in life insurance and pensions industry
The insurance and pensions industry, in which AEGON operates, has had very poor reputation in recent years.
¨ Not providing consumers with best products for their needs
The AEGON Ltd is not providing the products and services in a way that genuinely meets consumer needs/wants, and also not regulator by government.
¨ Difficult to understand financial services products
Financial services/products are hardly to understand. People do not always feel which range of financial products/services they need and also are not sure where to seek support and advice.
¨ Wide problems to remain competitive
The insurance and pensions industry have been characterised by intense competition. AEGON is in competition with other organisations which are selling directly to consumers and which are also better known in the UK.
¨ Not selling directly to customers
AEGON Ltd not sells product direct to consumers, they sells products/services via salesmen, agents or brokers which sometime involves mis-selling of its products/services.
P -1.3 Compare alternative forms of organizational development.
When we promote the idea of making consumer aware of the organizational change, it becomes organizational development. Generally, the organizational development is considered as a method of arrangement, suitable with the contemporary requirements of the organization and also being able to fulfil the future requirements that cannot be distinguish. After reading the case study of the AEGON Ltd, The plan appears to be the organizational efficiency and effectiveness from top to bottom level. The company led by its new CEO has new objectives such as:
Defining the view of "where company stand".
Defining how the company will stand in the future.
Defining the policies and standards to reach the future goals and objectives.
The purpose of the company was self analysis by defining goals, targets and objectives, how to reach them and what the management is doing to achieve these goals and objectives.
AEGON took a brand audit to find out the answers of these questions and the result of the audit reveals two steps
How was the company positioned?
How was the competitor of the company positioned?
By the audit, the new CEO came to know that there is a need for formation of the new approach (play in the market). The staffs were adopted with the innovation and well organized communication system. Additionally, self analysis has helped new CEO to position a fresh plan to craft progress.
The new plans resulted for the organization to involve in the following strategy steps:
Simplify financial service and provide more focus.
It was important that consumers understood more precisely what they were buying as well as the benefits and services they received. By making products and services clear to the consumers, to many of goal organization achieved and too many very important stakeholders introduced to the change. Both of the stakeholders (government and consumers) are aware and happy, because of services provided by AEGON, these steps were taken for the customer to make them aware and solve problems.
Develop the workforce.
The objective was to develop the skills, needed within the business and to involve the stakeholders in process of change, by providing them training and skills. Therefore, AEGON also created new opportunities for stakeholder to progress from one job to another job by developing and promoting the careers of work force. This helps AEGON to attract more customers and have competition. Organizational culture may include such things as, confidence to innovation, decisions and trust for production and quality. The model, implemented by new CEO of the AEGON, brought positive change in the organization and gave new direction to the company.
Fundamentally, representation of simplify system with regard to the AEGON can be evaluated as follows;
Analysing the factor affect the organization
Organizational performance and future plans are constantly affected by the external and internal environmental factors. For success in the present world, one need to consider not only the internal environment of the organization consisting of its resources and employees, but needs to consider the external factors as well. These facts cannot be stopped but can adjust accordingly as per the changes in the political, economical or social pressures.
These are the external aspects which consist of:
Competitors or Opponents
The change in the economic structure
The Impact of the society/culture
Political or Legal system
Impact of the environment
Analysing the weakness and strength of the organization
A range of organization functions which determine an organization strength and weaknesses include production function, management function, Research and Development, marketing function, sales function, HR function, procurement function, logistics function, and various other departments within the organization. For example, organization strength can be derived from the excellence human resource in the organization which might not be present in some of the competitors in the insurance and pensions industry. One more example includes marketing function i.e. if an organization is not effective in marketing efforts, competitors may take advantage of the firm's weakness. So AEGON Ltd need highly competent in achieving competences in all these areas of business in order to be successful in the business environment.
Determine the goals and objectives of the organization
It aims to boost organizational performance by aligning goals and objectives throughout the organization. Ideally, employees get key input to identify their objectives, time lines for completion etc. Management by objectives to be effective, individual managers must understand the specific objectives of their job and how those objectives fit in with the overall organizational objectives set by the board of directors.
Involving the stakeholder to process of change
Involving the stakeholder, how well does the organization ...
Involve stakeholders in problem solving?
Keep stakeholders informed of status towards organizational objectives?
Act on feedback from stakeholders?
Mobilize the right resources at the right time to adopt the implementation initiative?
Create a critical mass of effort by impacted groups to propel the change?
Dr. Baba, M., (2005): Change Management. The Defence Logistics Enterprise. Transforming Organizations in the Information Era. Enterprise Integration Group
Creating new culture in organization
Changing culture in organization helps to improvement organizational objects. Changing culture involves changing the basic values, beliefs, norms, etc., with the individuals of the organization in order to improve overall organization performance. "Whether or not it is possible to fully "manage change", we believe that being very clear about what changes are required and being very intentional about building a culture that supports the new mission, goals, strategies and practices increases the probability of success exponentially. This necessarily involves a large cross section of the organization in assessing the current system of norms and beliefs, determining what changes are needed, and designing an implementation plan" ( Shorb, J.K and Jones, M.D. 2009 ).
The result of the change was increase in the efficiency and effectiveness, the company improve its strengths and over comes its weaknesses, the pattern of the behaviours and business culture was developed in the organization and base of the organization to learn from its experiences was forms.
Task -2 Develop systems for understanding and involving others in the process of change.
P-2.1 Identify systems to involved appropriate stakeholders in the introduction of change.
Stakeholder is someone who has some stake or interest in the changes and development of the organization, such as share holders, employees, government and customers. The new CEO consulted with different stakeholders of the company and then formulates a plan of action which includes following aspects:
- Simplify to financial services and customer focus
It was important that consumers understood more specifically what they were buying, as well as the benefits and services they received. The new CEO make understandable to customers, what were company services and products, and what we going to invest and also what will possible to investment returns.
Both of the stakeholders and government were unhappy because services and products were not good but after this step taken by new CEO to clarify methods and they become more aware to this regard and problem has been solved.
- Developing the workforce
The purpose was to develop the skills needed within the company to help it change. AEGON also created opportunities for progression from one job to another job and usually one service to another service.
- Creating a distinct market place for the organization
Create a more different presence within the marketplace. This involved refreshing the AEGON brand in a means that made it more distinctive from its competitors and more attractive to his consumers.
The new CEO has taken some steps in following ways.
External promotional campaigns emphasised the relationship between Scottish Equitable and AEGON. This helped to support the local familiarity and the global power of the Organization in UK.
The CEO talked to media:
The new CEO talked to media about the refreshing of the brand internally and externally resulted in strong positive response.
AEGON has launched new and innovative products:
AEGON has launched new product e.g. the five for life pension has helped to change the way in which consumers can look at their retirement income. AEGON provide more certainty about the levels of income for customer, with providing the levels of return promised.
P-2.2 Analyse and evaluate these systems.
The change in the system of the organization brought positive influence internally and externally. The big challenge was to convince the stakeholders, the importance of the change in the organization. For the achievement of this objective, new CEO manoeuvre from improving skills of the workforce, he linked this growth to certain behaviours:
These eight behaviours are;
Act with integrity
Learn and grow
Relate and communicate
Customers less awareness is one another reason of the change in the organization, this was also reason of the government increased tax impositions. As result of this, the company was losing customers. Knowledge of the service and product was made available through AEGON information system.
Training and retraining of the employees was another aspect of the change.
Finally, the company has to regain its reputation and built a brand name for its stakeholders, and the CEO responded to this challenge by bringing well known brand shares which recognise AEGON in front of its stakeholders. Furthermore, AEGON moreover revive its brand name to hold its market position though merger with Scottish Equitable (now known as AEGON Scottish Equitable), which gave company a new look.
Task- 3 What were the models implemented for ensuring ongoing change.
P-3.1 Adapt an appropriate model for change.
The model, implemented by new CEO, brought positive and contrastive change and gave company new direction. The CEO already mentioned the performance of company through reforms in culture. As mentioned previously, both of the stakeholders (government and consumers) are aware and happy because of services provided by AEGON. These steps were taken for the customer to make them aware and solve problems.
With regard to AEGON model, implementation will bring some changes which can be categorised:
Analysing the factor affecting the organization.
Analysing the weaknesses and strengths of the organization.
Determine the goals and objectives of the organization.
Involving the stakeholder to process of change.
Creating new culture in organization.
As Kotter, (1995) describe in 'Leading Change' helpful model outlines an eight step process with suggestions to help organizations transform. Kotter model is useful in understanding that the change process takes time and is not something that happens immediately. It is important for program leaders and communications staff to understand that the steps needed to support any transformation plan takes place during all stages of project. Each step acknowledges a key principle identified and people can see changes, feel the changes.
These eight steps:
AEGON pension's provider has suggested that the issue of the government helping public to put money away for retirement is of greater urgency now than it ever has been. (AEGON UK chief executive Otto Thoresen. 2010)
Build the Guiding Team
Get the guiding team to create the right vision and strategies to guide action in all of the remaining stages of change. "This is a difficult and increasingly complex market in which AEGON Ltd is committed to offering adviser partners the ongoing help they require. We are confident that we have developed an investment proposition that meets the needs of advisers and their clients now and in a post RDR world." (Andy Marchant., 2009. Life and Pensions Marketing Director at AEGON)
Get the Vision Right
A shared sense of urgency for change may push people into action, but it is the vision that taking them in the right direction. A good vision offers a compelling, motivating the picture of the future and serves several important purposes.
Communicate for Buy In
Communicate changing vision and strategies to create understanding and buy-in
Keeping communication uncomplicated and heartfelt not complex and technical
Know what your individuals are "feeling"
Speak to anxieties, confusion, anger, fear
Empower action mean is a deal effectively with obstacles that block action, especially disempowering bosses, the wrong performance measurement and reward systems, lack of information, and lack of self confidence.
Create Short Term wins
A short term win boosts employee's confidence in the process, helping to make their efforts seem worthwhile, and gives the people responsible a chance to relax and enjoy their achievements and also link achievements back to the original vision, quieten the cynics and resisters and strengthen support from organization.
Consolidating achievements and progressing
Continuing with wave after wave of change, not stopping until the clear vision is a reality no matter how big the obstacles.
Make Change Stick
Change simply sticks when the people it affects are involved. All change is either rejected or embraced by the employees who have to live with its outcome. So it's always better to involve those people in the process of change and pay close attention to their hopes and fears.
P -3.2 How was the plan implemented, its process and outcomes.
For successfully manage change processes, it is required to analyze the phases of the process. Managers want to know in which phase they have to anticipate and what types of problems. Most successful organizations are able to adjust themselves to new conditions quickly. This needs to learn planning processes that lead to improved organizational values.
Consumers were confused before the model implemented what AEGON was. The outcome of model implement for change was extremely positive and successful. It helps to recognise the company strength and weakness and its also shows that global scale was important and local brand expertise as well. AEGON brand was not promoted alongside the Scottish Equitable and not well known in financial service industry. With a new Chief Executive of UK in place 2005 of AEGON put a new plan (model). The purpose of this model implement was to meet the CEO objectives and goals. Before implement to change AEGON was unknown in the United Kingdom, much less popular in consumers and product or services offer by the company not good enough. But after the implementation of changes AEGON became very popular brand in the United Kingdom and business started growing as well. Now the alliance with AEGON is much stronger. E.g. Scottish Equitable is now AEGON Scottish Equitable thus reflecting local knowledge and also global power.
In order to achieve goals and objectives of the change organization was affected internally and externally. Now AEGON brands have a good position in financial service industry. Since that, AEGON has increased the business growth and profit. It also improved its new business across a mix of profitable products and services which reflecting its continued strength.
P-3.3 Describe the purpose of eight behaviours.
The basic purpose of eight behaviours framework was making possible, the change AEGON had to support its brand standards, customer focused, and workforce development which also increase organization morale and performance. The aim was to make a strong culture that could help the process of incremental changes. These behaviours highlight the values of the organization. These behaviours helped to build strong organization culture and have also increases its performance organization.
These eight behaviours are:
Think customer in an organization is about ensuring every employee thinks about company customer needs/wants and acts in their best interests, in simple word put customer always first. The new CEO ensuring that customers needs and wants are at the heart of the business, information activities, decisions and behaviours.
The plan (model) implement for changes was extremely positive and successful.
After changes AEGON have a good position in financial service industry and selling product better than Competitors.
Act with integrity:
Now AEGON brand is better known in the UK.
The new CEO makes clear to customers, what are company service and products.
Team Culture in organization helps to improvement organizational objects and goals.
Learn and grow:
The purpose was to create opportunities for progression in organization and increase growth.
Relate and communicate:
After the Culture change, its bring change with the members of AEGON in order to improve overall organization performance.
P-3.4 Evaluate the role of an audit within and outside an organization. To what extent can a process of audit from the basis for business strategy.
The factors that affect an organization both external and internal are environmental. External environment creates opportunities for the organization and internal environment are basic of organization culture. In the fast changing world has to keep in touch and adjust into external environment. Today the ever growing competition, a strong, focused and progressive culture makes big difference in the performance of the organization. Good culture can take organization toward successes. "Changing culture in organization helps to improvement organizational objects and goals. Changing culture involves changing the basic values, beliefs, norms, etc., with the individuals of the organization in order to improve overall organization performance". (Shorb, J.K and Jones, M.D.2009)
Audit is generally conducted to understand the external and internal environment of the organization. The role of external audit is to assess the financial statements are accurate and complete. These statements also present the organization financial position and results. The internal auditing is involved to helping the organization to achieve their goals and objectives. This also analyzing business processes, procedures and activities, and highlights the organization problems and recommended their solutions.
AEGON, the brand audit they conducted helped them to understand the brands value, market perception about the organization, areas where changes was required and what resources available for the change. In simple words, the brand audit gave AEGON the direction to work thus enabling them to focus and priority the most important work.
The change in the company of AEGON is positive, but sustainability is necessary for the company to increase profits. The process of change is not a short term objective; the consistency of the firm will be the key to success. External factors will always be there to influence business organisations, AEGON should respond to these factors by simplifying, clarifying and strengthening its brand in the UK.
As organisations change, their performance and business culture will also develop. For AEGON, this is a succession, in which the business uses its knowledge to learn from its experiences.
This has helped AEGON as an organisation to progress towards achieving its full potential and to remain competitive in an increasingly difficult market.
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