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Executives at Lincoln Financial say efforts to improve annuity products and annuity distribution helped lead to strong annuity sales gains in the fourth quarter.

Sales increased 57% for fixed annuities, and 54% for variable annuities. Sales of variable annuities with living benefits guarantees increased 62%.

Dennis Glass, the president of the Radnor, Pennsylvania-based company, said last week, during a conference call with securities analysts, that annuity sales for all of 2017 were up for the first time since 2013.

“We’ll be adding even more products and distribution in 2018,” Glass said.

(Related: Lincoln Financial Agrees to Acquire Liberty Mutual Life Unit)

The new annuity product and distribution efforts should lead to meaningful increases in annuity sales this year, Glass said.

Lincoln as a whole is prettying $816 million in net income for the fourth quarter on $3.7 billion in revenue, up from $190 million in net income on $3.3 billion in revenue for the fourth quarter of 2016.

Total commission spending increased 6.4%, to $1.1 billion.

At the annuity operation, commission spending increased to $265 million, from $242 million.

Life insurance commission spending fell to $193 million, from $222 million.

In past quarters, Lincoln executives have talked about trying increase the share of company business coming from protecting customers against life or health risk, rather than interest risk.

The company has moved ahead with that strategy by agreeing to acquire group benefits business from Liberty Mutual. Company executives talked about the deal several times during the conference call but did not give new details about how they might go about integrating the group benefits business.

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