Deseret Management Corp. has decided to get out of the life insurance and annuity business.

Beneficial Life Insurance Company, a 104-year-old unit of Deseret, Salt Lake City, will stop taking applications for new life and annuity products Aug. 31.

Deseret, a commercial offshoot of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, founded Beneficial in response to the belief of Heber Grant, the seventh president of the church, that the church community had a responsibility to protect its widows and orphans, Beneficial President Kent Cannon writes in a letter to policyholders.

“At the time of our founding we fulfilled a need that was not being met in the Intermountain West,” Cannon writes. “Since that time, global and national competitors have entered the marketplace with a much broader range of products…. Beneficial’s relatively small size puts the company at a competitive disadvantage.”

Beneficial and Deseret have decided that other companies can meet church members’ insurance needs more efficiently, Cannon writes.

Cannon notes that Beneficial is well-capitalized and will continue to meet all contractual commitments under existing insurance and annuity contracts

Beneficial is “in serious negotiations with several high quality and competitive insurance carriers” to take on the company’s agents, Cannon writes.

Beneficial will be cutting about three-quarters of its 200 jobs in connection with the decision to suspend new sales, and the company will be offering the affected employees transition assistance, Cannon says.