Allianz Life Insurance of North America said operating profit rose 36 percent to a record $876 million in 2014, thanks to increased demand for retirement income products and good expense management.

Total premiums, which includes new sales and recurring premiums, rose 62 percent to $15.7 billion.

Walter White, CEO of the Golden Valley-based company, said in a prepared statement: "Our strong results reflect growing consumer demand for the guaranteed retirement income and growth potential our products provide, along with expanded relationships with our independent sales growth through the broker-dealer [securities firm] channel, as well as by traditional independent insurance agents."

In an interview, White said U.S. employment, mostly in Minnesota, grew about 5 percent during the year to more than 2,000 employees.

"We've got great employees, on the job and in the community," White said. "The total head count was up, but not dramatically and not proportionately with our growth. We're focused on being efficient.

"The growth this year was the culmination of several years of work in sales, and in the design of innovative products," White said. "This is a challenging market [marked by low interest rates], but one we can work our way through. The macroeconomic opportunity is quite large with more people entering retirement and concerned about retirement income. That plays to our strength. Not just the size of the nest egg. They want a recurring source of income."

Fixed annuity and fixed index annuity premium, the company's staple portfolio of products, more than doubled to $12.8 billion in 2014.

Allianz is the country's largest sellers of fixed annuities, which pay a guaranteed income.

Premium of variable annuity sales, which has been less of a focus, decreased 28 percent to $2.2 billion in 2014, compared with $3 billion in 2013. Life insurance sales increased 15 percent to $84 million in first-year premium.

Annuities are sometimes complex insurance products used for retirement. Single-premium annuities require a lump-sum payment in return for a regular stream of pension-like payments for the buyer's life.

Allianz, the North American subsidiary of one of the world's largest financial firms, sells a variety of insurance products.