Academics come up with replacement for annuities

Retirement bonds are technically targeted at those already buying bonds, either directly, or in the context of various products or mandates. 

Mr Martellini said the problem with conventional bonds was that bond portfolios held by investors were highly unsafe relative to their needs in retirement.

Retirement bonds, on the other hand, were by construction the "true safe" asset for investors investing for retirement, he said.

The products are broadly similar to annuities but without the problems of irreversibility, lack of transparency and high cost, that often deter people from buying them, according to Mr Martellini.

The professors are in the process of setting up a pan-European working group to explore the concept, including economics and policy experts.

They are also in meetings with politicians in France, where the retirement landscape is currently undergoing reform.

Paul Stocks, financial planning director at Dobson and Hodge, thought the concept was throwing up some interesting ideas but clarification was needed over inflation hedging, yield levels and supply.

He said: "Any new ideas and approaches are welcome, but I would feel it would take time before we could say it is a magic bullet."

Mr Martellini said technical details such as inflation indexation and maturities would need to be discussed with the issuing party.