The Pensions Regulator and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales are seeking views on proposals that will help trustees of defined contribution master trusts show customers that schemes are being run to a high standard.
The two bodies have developed a new assurance framework, which will provide employers shopping around for an automatic enrolment scheme for their workers with some confidence over scheme features.
A consultation on the framework was published by the ICAEW yesterday and views are being sought from the pensions industry.
Andrew Warwick-Thompson, TPR's executive director for DC, said: 'Gaining independent assurance will help manage confidence in this growing segment of the DC market and demonstrate the presence of governance and administration standards that meet our DC code and regulatory guidance.'
'We encourage employers to select master trusts that have obtained this assurance on the control objectives set out by the ICAEW.'
The framework focuses on six areas: essential scheme durability; the establishment of scheme governance; people; ongoing governance and monitoring; administration; and communication to members.
While the framework has been developed for master trusts, other larger DC schemes could adopt the guidance as best practice, the ICAEW said.
Henry Irving, head of audit and assurance at the ICAEW, said: 'Everybody, whether an employee or employer, wants to be confident that their pensions money is managed properly.
'Having an independent expert produce an assurance report can help employers assess the master trusts and effectively demonstrate that they operate to a good standard.'
'We are consulting on the draft framework to make sure it works for practitioners, employers and master trusts. We are keen that all stakeholders take the opportunity to feed back their comments.'
The National Association of Pension Funds welcomed the draft framework. Chief executive Joanne Segars said master trusts were a good choice for employers looking for a scheme for auto-enrolment.
'A well-run master trust combines robust and independent trustee governance, offers the scale required to deliver good value investments and administration and has the long-term interests of members at its heart,' she said.
Currently there are very few barriers to setting up a master trust, and there is no guarantee that they are all as well run as they should be, Segars noted.
The consultation closes on December 16 and final guidance is planned for publication in the spring.