Aegon makes an investment in its future with the Diligent board portal
Headquartered in The Netherlands, Aegon provides insurance, pensions and asset management in more than 25 countries around the world. In total, Aegon manages more than £475 billion of their own and their customers’ investments. The company’s 26,000 employees help millions of customers to take responsibility for their financial future. Aegon is a leader in the Dutch group pensions market and is – under the brand name Transamerica – one of the largest insurance companies in the United States. It also has strong market positions in individual and group pensions in the UK.
Keeping such a successful company running smoothly requires a daunting calendar of board meetings: some weekly, others quarterly. Aegon’s quarterly supervisory board meetings were particularly time-intensive when it came to preparation. They required long working days just to prepare and print board books that typically contained hundreds of pages of material.
According to Henk Snijders, Deputy Company Secretary for Aegon, “At one point, we put materials online using a basic tool, but that did not replace the need for hard copies.” To reliably disseminate hard copy books to the members of the company’s supervisory board, packages were couriered to various destinations in The Netherlands and abroad. Beyond the logistical difficulties, the paper-based approach raised other problems, including version control and security issues.
Snijders received a tip from one of the board members about switching to a digital solution. “He mentioned using Diligent BoardsTM on another board and was so enthused about it, we decided to investigate.” That process included vetting four potential suppliers including Diligent. Aegon created a “knock-out” list. Among the top “must-have” criteria: a global company that could follow the footprint of Aegon and something less tangible but equally as important, “gut feeling.” Snijders called it the “click factor,” and sought a partner that was easy to work with and engaged. He wanted a company that would listen to Aegon’s specific needs. After narrowing the list down and ranking the demos of all the potential solutions, Aegon chose Diligent as the most professional and reliable solution.
Adopting the Diligent Boards solution has made life easier for the company’s secretariat. For over a year’s worth of board meetings, Snijders estimates that up to a week’s worth of labour is saved through the digital approach, making the preparation of board materials much more efficient. What’s more, in an internal Aegon study on paper usage, Snijders points out that his department came in second for most paper saved.
What was the switch like for directors? At the first meetings using the Diligent board portal, a few board members insisted on using hard copies. Snijders commented, “It took them a few months to watch everyone else using the iPad-based solution before they were ready to adopt Diligent Boards themselves. They never asked for paper again.”
Snijders credits the intuitive nature of the iPad solution. “It is incredibly easy to use. In fact, when Diligent told us it would take 15 minutes to train our directors, I was sceptical because nothing is ever that easy. But it turned out to be the case. That’s how intuitive the features are.”
Another distinguishing factor when it comes to Diligent Boards: support. According to Snijders, “I’ve never experienced such great service at a help desk. And there’s been no dilution of support over time. Diligent is not only there for us for present-day needs, they continue to work with us to enhance the product.”