An insurer has created a streamlined, online version of a guide that can help consumers decide whether they should buy variable annuities with guaranteed minimum withdrawal benefits.

Nationwide Financial Services Inc., Columbus, Ohio, says the new Web-based workbook is based on a 2007 Nationwide publication, The Retirement Income and Income Risk Workbook.

Advisors can use the workbook to help clients decide whether they should consider buying Nationwide’s IncomeInsight “VA plus GMWB” product, the company says.

An advisor and client who use the new Web-based version of the workbook can analyze retirement income needs by answering just 8 or 9 questions about the client, Nationwide says.

The workbook estimates the client’s suggested “Retirement Income Portfolio,” which could include use of a VA plus GMWB product.

Nationwide is making the online workbook available through wholesalers and its income planning desk.

Nationwide notes that it also has commissioned Ibbotson Associates, a unit of Morningstar Inc., Chicago, to update a 2007 analysis of the use of VA plus GMWB products.

Ibbotson suggests in the updated study that using a VA plus GMWB strategy can increase potential retirement income while decreasing income risk, Nationwide says.