Russell Investments announced Wednesday that its LifePoints Funds target date series had surpassed $1 billion in assets under management, with growth year over year of 44%.

The target date series is a set of 10 strategically diversified portfolios designed to simplify the asset allocation process for retirement plan participants over time; they include nine target date strategy funds and the In Retirement Fund. The funds are available to retirement plans via the firm's U.S. advisor-sold business, which partners with financial intermediaries and defined contribution record keepers.

Kevin O’Connor, senior product manager for Russell Investments’ U.S. advisor-sold business, said in a statement, “Russell has consistently reinforced that all target date funds are not created alike and that it is critical to evaluate a fund family’s glide path methodology and portfolio construction.

"We believe that the global financial crisis validated this, and the significant growth in the AUM for our funds underscores that advisors are also taking notice of Russell’s rigorously tested glide path methodology and our multi-manager approach to portfolio construction,” he said.

AUM growth in the series is part of a larger industry trend, according to the company. Morningstar data indicate that target date funds steadily attract investor assets and reflect impressive growth rates compared to other fund categories. Asset growth records across the industry in seven broad asset classes indicated that only alternative and commodities funds exceeded target date funds’ percentage gains in 2010. Both alternative funds and commodities funds benefited from near-term investor concerns over volatility and inflation.

Ben Jones, director of defined contribution, intermediary distribution for Russell, said in a statement, “Russell is committed to helping advisors grow and service their plan sponsor clients in what is an increasingly specialized and competitive market.”