Personal pension providers are exposing policyholders and millions of future auto-enrolled workers to significant governance failures, a lobby group has warned.
FairPensions' research found a significant ‘governance gap' between trust-based schemes and contract-based personal and group personal pensions.
It said the introduction of auto-enrolment later this year would increase reliance on large insurance companies for pension saving - exposing up to 8 million workers to governance failings.
The survey of the ten largest contract-based pension providers found most failed to regularly monitor fund managers on stewardship of the companies in which they invest.
It showed only one of the insurance companies polled had signed the voluntary UK Stewardship Code. Just one life and pensions firm asked for voting records from external fund managers, and none asked fund managers for information on how they interact with companies.
Only Standard Life makes any information on voting and engagement publically available on its retail website.
The report said there "is a sense insurance companies do not view themselves as having a responsibility to regularly monitor fund managers... to ensure that they are well governed and deliver sustainable returns".
FairPensions director of engagement Louise Rouse said: "The unwillingness of insurance companies to regularly monitor external fund managers leaves contract-based pension holders ill-served and poorly protected compared to fund members in the best governed trust-based schemes.
"Ultimately it is savers who suffer when a pension provider fails to monitor their asset managers. As millions of people enter the pensions market for the first time, they will want to know that their pension provider, whether trust-based or contract-based, is protecting their best interests."
The group called on the Department for Work and Pensions to investigate the consequences this "governance gap" for pension savers.
UK's ten largest contract-based pension providers:
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Source: Based on ABI data
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