Autif director general Philip Warland says the life insurance industry has no right to criticise the Government's “interference” in pension design because its record is so poor.
His explosive comments, made at a conference on stakeholder last week, will add fuel to the flames of an ongoing public spat between Autif and the ABI.
Warland was responding to comments made by ABI director general Mary Francis, who told delegates at a Labour Party conference fringe meeting that the Government should learn its lesson from the Millennium Dome and stop “meddling” in the design of financial products such as stakeholder.
Warland said he applauded stakeholder as an important step in rebuilding public confidence, which has been shattered by the pension industry.
Warland told delegates he was astonished to see Francis ask the Government to stop interfering in product manufacture and let the industry get on with it.
He said: “The reason the Government has had to get into product manufacture with stakeholder is because, left to themselves, her companies produced products which have already produced consumer detriment running into tens of billions of pounds, with more to come on endowments.
“If her industry had a pristine 10-year record, she might have a point. But no Government faced with the record is going to believe the pension industry will be better in the future until there is more hard evidence to go on.”
In reply, the ABI referred to Francis' speech in which she said Government involvement in design has been beneficial and provided a spur to industry but it was now time for the Government to stand back.