Massachusetts Financial Services is offering a new and improved variable annuity.

The Boston-based firm in adding a death benefit to both the fixed and variable versions of the MFS Regatta Gold annuity.

An annuity is an insurance contract that invests in an underlying pool of securities to generate a steady stream of income, typically for retirement. Earnings aren't taxed until they are tapped.

While fixed annuities pay set yields, much like bank certificates of deposit, yields on variable annuities fluctuate day of day depending on the performance of the investments.

The new death benefit guarantees beneficiaries a %5 rate of return on cumulative contributions up to an amount twice the original investment.

With this enhancement, "MFS" Regatta Gold has one one of the most competitive death benefits in the industry," according to company officials.

William F. Kassner, managing director of sales and marketing at the Winsbury Group in Columbus, Ohio, is leaving the company to resume his consulting practice.

Winsbury, which administers mutual fund assets for banks, hired Mr. Kassner in 1991 to take advantage of his marketing expertise, said David Huber, also a managing director at the company.

Prior to accepting a full-time post with Winsbury in 1991, Mr. Kassner had worked for the company on a consulting basis. He plans to return to his consulting practice in Boston.

Mr. Kassner's departure comes on the heels of Winsbury's buyout Oct. 1 by Bisys Group Ins., a bank technology specialist based on Little Falls, N.J. After the acquisition, Mr. Kassner "didn't see being able to exercise his entrepreneurial abilities," Mr. Huher said.

At this point, Winsbury does not anticipate replacing Mr. Kassner, Mr. Huber said.

Assets invested in money-market mutual funds stood at $594.93 billion for the week ending Nov. 23, the Investment Company Institute reported.

The figure was virtually unchanged from the prior week, when money market assets totaled $594.88 billion.

Assets in funds for retail investors totalled $398.13 billion, an increase of $270.4 million for the week.

Assets in funds for institutional investors totaled $196.8 billion, down $212.5 million.

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