AEGON UK boss Adrian Grace has complained the focus on Brexit has taken ministers’ eyes off key pension issues but insisted it has not made the group’s Dutch owner less likely to back expansion in the United Kingdom.

After the Edinburgh-based company posted two per cent growth in first half profits Mr Grace said the government needed to take urgent action to help firms such as Aegon UK to encourage people to save more for retirement.

“Whatever your views on the pros and cons of Brexit, one thing we can say with certainty is that it has already absorbed a huge amount of Government time and focus leaving little time to address other pressing concerns,” said Mr Grace.

He added: “Brexit’s taken a lot of the eye off the ball, we need the industry to move forward.”

Read more: Law firm highlights impact of Brexit uncertainty as profits fall

However, while the UK could leave the European Union on October 31 without a departure deal in place, Mr Grace said the business he runs remains an attractive investment proposition for Aegon Group.

Noting Aegon UK paid the group a record £160 million dividend recently, Mr Grace said the business is well placed in a market that is set for sustained growth.

Aegon UK has used the support of its parent group to build a big position in the platform market through acquisitions such as the £140m purchase of Cofunds, which Mr Grace said had been a big success.

“I don’t think there’s any question that the group would like us to do more deals if we felt they were the right deals,” said Mr Grace.

Read more: Scotland wins significant vote of confidence from pensions giant

He maintained that Brexit should have limited impact on Aegon UK given its focus on the domestic market.

“We are UK registered … there’s no real impact. The only impact to the group is that the falling pound means our dividend is worth a little bit less today than it was six months ago but that shouldn’t detract in any way from the group wanting to invest further in the UK.”

In its first half results announcement Aegon group noted Brexit had caused complications for its Edinburgh-based Kames Capital asset management operation. This is separate from Aegon UK.

The group said asset management earnings in Europe fell €9million (£8.3m) to €7m in the first half year of 2019, “mainly due to the UK”.

Read more: Lloyds to pay £140m as Standard Life Aberdeen spat comes to an end

It noted: “In the UK, the departure of a number of fund managers and Brexit uncertainty led to outflows.” Five fund managers quit Kames in December and joined Artemis.

Aegon UK grew first half underlying earnings to €70m from €69m. Mr Grace said Aegon UK passed key strategic milestones during the period.

These included the completion of the integration of the Cofunds business it bought from Legal & General in 2016.

Aegon UK faced expensive complications after migrating 400,000 Cofunds retail customers on to its systems. It paid an undisclosed amount of compensation to customers of Cofunds and advisers affected by disruption.Mr Grace said the related backlog has been cleared.

Read more: Aegon UK boss says sorry for upgrade issues

“I think the Cofunds acquisition will go down in Aegon UK history as probably the best that we’ve ever made in terms of repositioning the business and financial contribution,” he said.

Aegon UK wants to be a consolidator in the market for platforms, which allow people to manage their investment portfolios online. It will focus on “business as usual” but be in the market for acquisitions at the r ight price.

Mr Grace also highlighted the out-sourcing deal under which Atos is taking over administration of traditional-style policies for Aegon UK, which bought Scottish Equitable in 1994. The deal will allow Aegon UK to achieve cost savings. Some 850 Aegon employees have moved to Atos, which expects to win more pensions administration work.

Aegon UK has around 1,200 staff in Edinburgh.

Kames Capital employs around 250 in the city.

Assets under management at Kames Capital rose to £37.4 billion at June 30, from £37.2bn at December 31.

Regarding issues the government should focus on, Mr Grace said: “We need to do the pension dashboards, we need to sort out pension tax relief, we just need to do the basics and get on with them.”