BOSTON (TheStreet) -- First-year sales for the MetLife Growth and Guaranteed Income variable annuity exceeded $1 billion, MetLife (MET - Get Report) and Fidelity Investments announced Monday.

The product -- issued by MetLife and distributed exclusively by Fidelity -- is a deferred variable annuity with a living benefit. It lets people approaching or in retirement use a portion of their retirement assets, particularly from a 401(k), 403(b) or IRA, to provide a guaranteed minimum lifetime income stream for them or their spouse. It offers guaranteed lifetime withdrawals of between 4% and 6% of the single premium investment, depending on the age of the client. Once established, the withdrawal percentage does not change.

Met Life
Metlife issues a unique annuity product that has passed $1 billion in first-year sales.

Both parties credit the strong sales to an increasing demand among Americans for guaranteed income in retirement and the potential upside for growth.

According to recent MetLife research, 69% of those surveyed do not feel they have an adequate financial safety net. Similar research by Fidelity found that most investors within five years of retirement (74% of those it surveyed) are looking for a balance between preservation of their savings and growth. Nearly half (46%) said that when considering a retirement income product, it is very important to have investments that guarantee a certain amount of income even if the investment's value declines.

-- Written by Joe Mont in Boston.

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