Two big financial services companies are jointly introducing a deferred variable annuity that targets retirees and people transitioning to retirement.

Called the MetLife Growth and Guaranteed Income variable annuity, the policy is issued by MetLife Investors USA Insurance Company and, in New York, only by Metropolitan Life Insurance Company.

MetLife Investors and Metropolitan Life are units of MetLife Inc., New York (NYSE:MET).

Distribution is exclusively through Fidelity Investments, Boston.

The VA includes a built-in guaranteed withdrawal benefit for life which provides for a set withdrawal rate determined by the owner’s age at first withdrawal. For ages 59 1/2 – 64, the rate is 4%; for ages 65 – 75, it is 5%; and for age 76 and up it is 6%. All annuitants must be between the ages of 50 and 85.

The design allows people near or in retirement to use a portion of their assets to purchase guaranteed lifetime income for self or spouse, the two firms say. It provides growth potential when the market improves and downside income protection if the market declines, they add, noting that owners retain control of their assets and can access a portion of their account value at any time during the contract.

The policy also:

- Includes a death benefit that allows individuals to leave assets to beneficiaries.

- Offers the Fidelity VIP FundsManager 60% Portfolio, a fund of funds portfolio providing exposure to multiple asset classes with a target asset allocation mix of 60% equity, 35% fixed income and 5% money market portfolios.

- Has no benefit or investment choices for consumers to make.

- Has a minimum single premium of $50,000.

- Is set up so that fees and charges are deducted from or reduce the account balance. These include: an annual annuity mortality and expense charge for single and joint life coverage of 1.90% and 2.05%, respectively; underlying fund expenses (currently 0.84%); and a surrender charge of 2% for the first 5 years.

Surrender charges do not apply to guaranteed withdrawal benefit amounts, annuitizations and death benefits, and there are no maintenance fees or initial sales charges.

Fidelity is providing a Web page with product-related educational resources, including informative videos and interactive tools. The new product is the only deferred VA with a living benefit sold through the company.

The contract value is subject to market fluctuations and investment risk so that, when withdrawn, it may be worth more or less than its original value, the companies note.

The contract’s financial guarantees are solely the responsibility of the issuing insurance company.