The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has published a list of key features that defined contribution (DC) schemes "need to be able to demonstrate" to show they will deliver good outcomes for savers.
The 36 features underpin the six principles published by the watchdog in December 2011 and are aimed at product providers, trustees and employers.
TPR chief executive Bill Galvin (pictured) said the features will be like "motherhood and apple pie" to some providers, but insisted they need to be demonstrated.
He said: "The key issue for us is: how can the presence of those six principles be demonstrated across an industry that is very complex?
"We have been working with the industry extensively looking at what features we might look for as a regulator and we might direct employers and customers and consumers to look for in terms of what makes a good pension scheme."
Galvin said he thought the features would apply to all pension schemes, but the challenges would be different in trust and contract-based provision.
He said trust-based schemes would need to be able to demonstrate "scale, that those running them are capable and that conflicts of interest have been managed."
While contract-based schemes need to show they are not simply read across from the retail approach to personal pensions.
Galvin added: "It is our belief that providers have to demonstrate that the interests of customers are to the fore."
The regulator said it will consult formally on the features' place in its regulatory approach in 2013, but hopes newly designed schemes will take them into consideration.
A spokesman said: "How trustees measure the presence of the features is expected to be a core factor in the upcoming formal consultation."
The watchdog has also released an online tool to help employers check whether their existing DC scheme meets the criteria to be an auto-enrolment scheme.
TPR has also published a leaflet, Selecting a good automatic enrolment scheme, setting out questions employers can ask advisers or providers when choosing a scheme for auto-enrolment, or assessing an existing scheme.
Click here for a full list of the features.
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