EUROPE - Aegon Global Pensions and its parent group's third-party administration arm TKP Investments have finally rolled out their cross-border pensions platform targeted at multinational companies to help manage their pension plans, though officials say the process was not without technical and regulatory complications.

TKP, Aegon and Citi have been working on the project for some time and had intended to roll it out last autumn, but the sheer volume of IT, regulatory and technical complexities meant the product took 6-9 months longer than expected. (See earlier IPE article: Aegon to roll out pension asset pooling in autumn)

A spokesman for the firm confirmed the platform is now live in both the Netherlands and the UK - though "at least one other country will follow quite soon after" through the launch of other UCITS funds - and is designed to give multinationals access to pan-European pensions through the platform with tax-transparent investment funds as well as take on all of the reporting, management, investment of a company's pension assets, but reduce both risk and costs in the process.

The asset pooling structure taps into Aegon's existing knowledge of using the Dutch mutual funds pooling vehicle, the Fonds voor Gemene Rekening (FGR), and since testing has already amassed €9bn in assets under management.

Whereas pan-European pooling vehicles were until recently largely only feasible for larger multinationals, this package is designed to take out the stresses and strains for smaller pension funds who might not want to go through the work of trying to knit together the technology and regulation of each country they intend to use the vehicle for.

"Until today, only a few large multinationals have been able to profit from asset pooling, as setting up a pooling platform has been too time-consuming and expensive," said Frans van der Horst, director of Aegon Global Pensions.

"With the launch of this multi-client asset pooling platform, small- and medium-sized multinational companies can now also benefit from cost savings, improved governance and better risk control."

Aegon's own project was delayed beyond the original autumn launch date because the process of bringing together organisations who would manage the structure in different countries was far more complex than anticipated, said the spokesman.

He noted not only did the team of three firms have to bring together differing cultures within the order processors and reporting processors, but the IT needed to be connected in many companies and countries, legal requirements for various reporting practices are completely different in each country and legal documentation still requires the firms to note who is responsible for every activity and transaction that takes place.

This latest developments comes just days after Northern Trust revealed its own asset pooling platform is now being used by asset managers to service and deliver cross-border funds. (See earlier IPE story: Northern Trust expands into pensions ‘advisory')