Blazing a new trail, Signet Banking Corp. has introduced a proprietary variable annuity that lacks sales charges or penalties for early withdrawals.

Of the 10 banks that sell their own variable annuities, the Richmond, Va.-based Signet is the only one to offer a "no-load" product. The bank is targeting customers in their 50s who are trying to accumulate assets on a tax-deferred basis, and want life insurance too.

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