Nearly 70 percent of annuity professionals said that, over the last 12 months, guaranteed lifetime withdrawal benefits (GLWB) were a “must have” feature for annuities sales.

For the previous 12 months, no other feature came close to GLWB’s in importance. A “choice of combination benefits” and “principal preservation income riders” trailed in second and third places at 11 percent and 6 percent respectively.

However, looking ahead just 37 percent of respondents predicted GLWB’s as a “must have” feature in the coming year. And a “choice of combination benefits” and “principal preservation income riders” increased in importance at 25 percent and 10 percent, respectively.

Forty-four percent of annuity professionals said that they would like annuity providers to focus on developing “less complex product designs” in the next 12 months.

And “better illustration tools” and “improved mobile application tools” were each selected by 18 percent of respondents as areas of focus for providers in the next year. Another 13 percent selected “multi-product platform solutions.”

Sixty-two percent of respondents believe the “need for guaranteed income in retirement,” is the feature clients are looking for most. Another 23 percent said it is the “need to address multiple needs with one product” and 10 percent selected the “need to maximize a nest egg through accumulation products.”

“This survey shows that the need for guaranteed income in retirement continues to be a top priority for consumers and the annuity professionals who advise them,” said Mark Fitzgerald, national sales manager for Saybrus Partners, Phoenix’s distribution subsidiary. “For both carriers and advisors, finding the right balance between products that can address multiple needs and products that are less complex will continue to be a challenge.”

The survey of 102 independent marketing organization professionals, carriers, independent agents and vendors was conducted by Phoenix at the National Association for Fixed Annuities’ 2013 NAFA IMO Summit between Oct. 16-18.