Customers of the country’s largest advised investment platform have been locked out of their accounts following a mass transfer of accounts.
Cofunds clients, who had their pension and investment accounts merged with insurance giant Aegon over the early May bank holiday, have said they cannot get in touch with the platform provider to rectify a number of technical problems that have emerged in the new system.
Aegon is the latest in a growing list of financial institutions to fall foul of technology glitches.
Bank TSB's IT meltdown has still not been rectified nearly a month after the first issues were reported. Customers have been logged out of accounts, seen others customers' bank details and been the victims of fraudsters taking advantage of the confusion.
Aviva has also had problems upgrading its platform, as did Barclays when it replaced its popular Stockbroker service with Smart Investor last year.
On the first weekend of May, Aegon upgraded just over 400,000 customers from the Cofunds platform to the Aegon platform.
The upgrade was intended to provide clients with “a large number of service enhancements” and “a wider investment range”.
Some of the key processes they were worried about were not completely robust, but it wasn't enough to stop them launching.
However, some customers have said that they cannot get access to basic information.
Aegon admitted that around 400 people cannot gain access to their account directly.
One user, David Johnston, said that some of his investments were sold in order to pay management fees, despite having sufficient cash in his account to cover the costs.
“Since then it has proved impossible to make contact with Aegon because the line is permanently engaged. There has clearly been a serious hiccup. When you log on to the site you cannot find information that was previously available,” he said.
Mr Johnston said he tried repeatedly to get in touch with Aegon, calling at least a dozen times.
“There has been this huge takeover and you cannot get in contact with a person to answer fairly basic questions,” he said.
“It appears, as with TSB and its cock up, it's another example of one organisation being unable to manage its system correctly.”
Mark Loydall of Cambourne Financial Planning, an advice firm, said that the new system has been difficult for advisers to get to grips with, and that basic functions like printing off client valuations were either not working or were inadequate.
He said: “From a client perspective, all they can see now is a very basic value. All of their transaction history has been lost. The biggest problem is that they've gone from a simple reliable platform that does some nice things which clients liked, to something very basic that's almost terrible in its current form.”
Likewise, Darius McDermott of Chelsea Financial Services said some of his clients were having difficulty getting access codes to login to the new platform.
An Aegon spokesman said the company was working with affected customers to get them on to the site, claiming they would be “up and running in the next few days”.
Mark Polson of the Langcat, a fund shop expert, said executing a large-scale platform upgrade is like trying to change the engine of a car while driving at the same time – “it’s just phenomenally hard”, he said.
Aegon was aware of some technical issues prior to the switch, Mr Polson said, but that the cost of a delay meant the upgrade went ahead anyway.
“Some of the key processes they were worried about were not completely robust, but it wasn't enough to stop them launching. If you delay a launch of something like this it will cost you millions and millions of pounds."
Following the integration of Cofunds customers, there are now around 1.4 million people using Aegon’s digital investment platform.
If you have experienced problems with your new Aegon account, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.