Bank annuity sales increased to $4.9 billion in May, up 36% from the total for May 2005.

Variable annuity sales in banks rose 60%, to $2.4 billion, while bank sales of fixed annuities rose 19%, to $2.5 billion, according to Kenneth Kehrer Associates, Princeton, N.J.

Banks also sold more fixed annuities than variable annuities in April.

While current interest rates generally have been unfavorable for fixed annuities in financial institutions, the fact that fixed annuity sales climbed sharply in May could be a result of banks improving training programs for platform sales representatives, says Greg Salsbury, a vice president at Jackson National Life Insurance Company, Lansing, Mich., the company that sponsors the survey.

“We have observed an increase in the productivity of platform reps since the first of the year, which generally coincides with more fixed annuity sales,” Salsbury says.