Faced with a volatile market and a struggling economy, investors are looking for products that offer them good returns and downside protection. One product that meets both of these needs is the variable annuity. For investors, variable annuitites offer the chance to invest in a wide range of asset classes, and to pay an additional fee that insures they’ll receive a guaranteed income after they retire, even if their underlying investments don’t perform well enough to provide this. These guarantees can be costly for the companies that offer them, though, which has prompted many insurers to raise their fees and change their investment portfolios. With high fees and greater investment restrictions, VAs offer less value than they used to. A better option? Low-cost ETFs, which lets you balance your stock and bond exposure in the right proportion for you.