The traditional gap between sales of fixed annuities and variable annuities through banks narrowed toward the end of 2004.[@@]

Sales of fixed annuities in banks slid to $1.9 billion in December 2004, down from $2.4 billion in December 2003, but bank VA sales climbed to $1.6 billion, from $1.4 billion.

Kenneth Kehrer Associates, Princeton, N.J., published those figures in the latest report in a series of monthly reports sponsored by the institutional marketing group at Jackson National Life Insurance Company, a unit of Prudential P.L.C., London.

Total bank annuity sales fell 7% between December 2003 and December 2004, to $3.5 billion.

Total sales of annuities in banks have generally been declining since March 2004, and low interest rates have contributed to that decline, says Brad Powell, president of the Jackson National institutional marketing group.

Kenneth Kehrer, whose firm conducts the survey, says reports that some mutual funds were giving certain investors special treatment hurt sales of mutual funds and variable annuities in 2004. Sales of mutual funds started to recover early in 2004, and it looks as if sales of variable annuities started to recover in November 2004, Kehrer says.

Meanwhile, sales of mutual funds in banks were off 1% in December 2004, and that may have let variable annuities gain market share, Kehrer says.