Securian Financial Group’s earnings dropped 7 percent to $255 million in 2016 on revenue that increased 4 percent to $4.4 billion.

St. Paul’s flagship financial firm, owned by policyholders, said life insurance payouts dampened earnings. The revenue increase was below the firm’s five-year average of 9 percent compounded annually.

“Securian generated another solid year of financial results,” said CEO Chris Hilger. “Our diverse businesses increased revenue and achieved excellent retention. We also made important strategic decisions and investments to ensure future growth and success.

“In 2016, Securian paid out the most benefits in our history ­—$4.9 billion — to individuals, families and businesses when they needed them most.”

The company said insurance in force increased 2 percent to $1.18 trillion.

Assets under management increased 10 percent to $70.5 billion amid a strong stock and real estate market.

Insurance sales increased 6 percent to $955 million while annuity sales to individuals and retirement plans increased 19 percent, to $2 billion.

Also, in November Securian Financial announced its largest acquisition in a bid to expand outside the United States for the first time. Securian said it will spend $142 million to acquire four businesses from Ivari, a Toronto-based insurance company formerly known as Transamerica Life Canada.

For the 43rd consecutive year, Securian will make a profit-sharing contribution to employees’ retirement accounts that amounts to 4.7 percent of annual salary. As of the end of 2016, Securian employed 4,577 people nationwide (up 5 percent over 2015), including 2,676 at its headquarters in St. Paul. Headquarters employment rose 2.5 percent.