The time has come for a single pensions' regulator to ensure better and fairer incomes for people, National Association of Pension Funds chair Mark Hyde Harrison has said.
Speaking at the NAPF's annual conference in Manchester yesterday, his final address as the association's chair, Hyde Harrison said it was time to stop talking about a single regulator for pensions and simply get on with making it happen.
He said, with millions of workers being automatically enrolled into a workplace pension scheme and the inevitable increase in scrutiny of the quality of those schemes, regulation was a serious flaw in the current system.
'The mass defined contribution market brought about by auto-enrolment will mean that the current regulatory split of the market between The Pensions Regulator and the Financial Conduct Authority will become increasingly apparent - and increasingly unsustainable,' he told NAPF delegates.
'With pensions becoming an employer duty, and with the growth in the numbers in pensions, it can only be a matter of time before we move to a single regulator for pensions. We've been saying this for some time - and we're not alone - but we do need to have this debate quite openly now.'
Hyde Harrison said the shift would not be easy but the issue must not be 'dodged'.
'The priority has to be ensuring better and fairer pensions for people. We need the right regulatory environment to help us achieve that,' he said.
Hyde Harrison also cautioned against any breakdown in the political consensus on pensions. This has helped strengthen the message that 'soft compulsion, with employers and employees chipping in, is the right medicine', he said.
He warned that any attempts to 'play around with' pensions tax or to suggest that smaller businesses will not have to auto-enrol at all would be disastrous.
There was also a clear message for the European Commission on the solvency proposals in the new Institutions for Occupational Retirement Provision (IORP) directive.
The EC must 'stop dealing with the past and focus on the 60% of Europe's citizens who have no access at all to a workplace pension', advised Hyde Harrison.