The chairman of the NAPF: profiled in Pensions Insight’s Top 50 2013
Hyde Harrison, chairman since the summer of 2011 and former chief executive of Barclays UK Retirement Fund, hit the headlines in Liverpool when he weighed into the discount debate in his speech at the NAPF conference.
“The highlights of 2012 have been: the landing of the great experiment that is auto-enrolment; the debate we’ve been having about quantitative easing’s adverse effect on pension funds; and how we’ve gone to Brussels and challenged their assumptions.
“We can’t let our eye off the ball on Europe. While the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority haven’t abandoned their view of holistic balance sheets, the directive has been delayed so they can do an impact study. As Steve Webb put it so well – this does seem to be a solution in search of a problem.
“The question for 2013 is: is this regulation appropriate if it wrecks the economic recovery in Europe? With the £350bn of QE putting such a strain on pension funds, the question is whether our regulatory regime is appropriate and are we going to damage the wider economy on which our pension schemes depend.
“The IORP directive is trying to secure common standards of security for pension funds. In 2013 we need to sort out what the most appropriate balance of securing pension funds is, while not damaging the economy on which they depend.
“I am happy to support Steve Webb in his ideas around defined ambition and innovations in pensions, but the message I’ve given to him and Iain Duncan Smith is that if we are going to enrol millions of people into a defined contribution environment we need to make DC as good as it can be. That means looking at the issue of scale, governance, appropriate default fund design and greater transparency in the annuity market.
“While defined ambition is interesting, unfortunately it always going to be something that affects, if it takes off, maybe a million people at best. The focus must be on DC.”