Sun Life Financial

Summary

Sun Life Financial Inc., a financial services company, provides insurance, wealth, and asset management solutions to individuals and corporate clients worldwide. It offers term and permanent life, as well as personal health, dental, critical illness, long-term care, and disability insurance products. The company also provides reinsurance products; investment counselling and portfolio management services; mutual funds and segregated funds; trust and banking services; real estate property brokerage and appraisal services; and merchant banking services. It distributes its products through direct sales agents, managing and independent general agents, financial intermediaries, broker-dealers, banks, pension and benefits consultants, and other third-party marketing organizations. The company was founded in 1871 and is headquartered in Toronto, Canada.


History

 

Pre-World War II

Founded in Montreal, Quebec, as The Sun Insurance Company of Montreal in 1865 by Matthew Hamilton Gault , an Irish immigrant who settled in Montreal in 1842. However, operations actually began in 1871. By the end of the 19th century, it had expanded to Central and South America, the United States, the United Kingdom, West Indies, Japan, China, Philippines, India, North Africa and other international markets. During the next five decades, the company grew and prospered, surviving the difficulties of World War I and the large drain on its finances through policy claims arising from the large number of deaths caused by the Great Flu Epidemic of 1918.

The company's original Dominion Square building in Montreal was built in 1918. Capping a Montreal construction boom that began in the 1920s, the company completed construction of the expansion of its headquarters with its new 26-story headquarters north tower in 1933. Although the head office of the Royal Bank of Canada on St. James Street was taller by several floors, the Sun Life Building was at the time the largest building in terms of square footage anywhere in the British Empire.

Chartered in 1865, its traditional base business worldwide remains life insurance. However, it now also has significant asset management operations. In 1919, it was the first Canadian company to offer group life insurance. Having begun its first US operations in 1895, the company sold its first group life plan in the U.S. in 1924.

World War II

In World War II, as part of Operation Fish, securities from the United Kingdom were secretly moved to the Sun Life Building for safekeeping. A persistent, but incorrect, rumour is that the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom were illegally shipped out of the United Kingdom during WWII and stored there was deliberately spread in Montreal to account for increased activity at the building.

Post-World War II

During the post-war period, the company's successful business strategies made it one of Montreal's largest white-collar employers, one of the top corporations in Canada, as well as a global player in the life insurance field. For the first half of the 20th century, the city of Montreal had been the economic hub of Canada, but it was losing ground to Toronto. As early as 1950, Toronto's economic activity surpassed Montreal's with regard to stock market trading and capitalization. The advent, in the 1960s, of political and terrorist movements demanding the independence of Quebec from Canada cast a pallor of uncertainty over the business community.

1977–1980

In 1977, the newly-elected sovereigntist Quebec government passed the Charter of the French Language , making the use of French language mandatory for medium- and large-scale companies when communicating with French-speaking staff. The law was received negatively by the English-speaking business community, many of whom perceived that the historical rights of the English-speaking minority should be respected. The new government also promised a referendum on Quebec sovereignty, injecting instability into the Montreal business community. On January 6, 1978, Sun Life became the first large company to leave Quebec post-election, announcing that it would move its head office to rented space in Toronto, Ontario. Officially, Sun Life said it was motivated by the political instability and economic uncertainty of Quebec's future, but skeptics said it was the company's unwillingness to comply with the requirements of Bill 101. In a reaction the next day, the province's finance minister Jacques Parizeau called Sun Life "one of the worst exporters of Quebec capital", and threatened to freeze some $400 million CAD in assets.In 1979, the company acquired a property at University Avenue and King Street in downtown Toronto and constructed a new office complex, the Sun Life Centre, which was completed in 1984.Bill 101 required more than French communications with French-speaking staff. It made French the official language of the workplace. It also provided that present and prospective employees who could not speak English not be discriminated against because of their inability to speak English.

For the largest employer of English-speaking people in Montreal, this would make things very difficult. Many, if not most, of Sun Life's Head Office employees in 1979 were not fluent in French. Sun Life was quite clear that this was the reason for its move when it made the announcement. The PQ government was quick to label Sun Life "bad corporate citizens" and claimed that if "they had only warned us, we could have worked something out."The downsizing of Sun Life's Montreal office did not take place overnight. Transfers and moves occurred on a departmental basis and did not commence until several months after the announcement. By 1980, 300 head office employees were located in Toronto.There were several other key activities in the post-war years. This included a decision by Sun Life to leave many markets, including China and India, because of economic and political changes. In 1962, Sun Life became a mutual company and repurchased its shares for $65 million in total. In 1973, Sun Life opened its American subsidiary's new headquarters in Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts, located outside Boston.

1980s–1990s

Sun Life continued to expand its wealth management business with the 1982 acquisition of Massachusetts Financial Services , the Boston-based investment management and mutual fund company. It entered the mutual fund business in Canada by forming Spectrum Mutual Fund Services in 1987 and a decade later, acquired McLean Budden, a Canadian investment management firm .

International expansion continued in the 1990s. In 1995, Sun Life entered the Indonesian market through local company PT Asuransi Modern Sun Life, now called PT Sun Life Indonesia and opened a Representative Office in Beijing in preparation to enter China. A year later, Sun Life opened a services center in Waterford, Ireland, to provide technology and business processing support for Sun Life business units.

In 1999, Sun Life officially returned to India and China when it established two joint ventures – Birla Sun Life in India with a local partner Aditya Birla Group, and Sun Life Everbright in China with a partner China Everbright Group. Over the next decade, both operations grew rapidly – by September 2008, there were 132,460 Birla Sun Life advisors working in 600 branches across India while Sun Life Everbright opened its sixth branch in Guangzhou, bringing its presence to 18 cities in China.

2000s

In early 1998, Sun Life announced its intention to demutualize. In March 2000, its initial public offering started the trading of Sun Life Financial Inc. shares on the Toronto , New York and Philippine stock exchanges.

In 2002, Sun Life combined its operations with Clarica Life Insurance of Waterloo, Ontario. Founded in 1870 as Mutual Life of Canada, Clarica was known as The Mutual Group before it went public in 1999. The former head office for Mutual Life Assurance Company at 227 King Street South in Waterloo became the home to Sun Life's Canadian operations, while a regional office and Sun Life's corporate headquarters remained in Toronto. The company also maintains regional offices in Montreal, Ottawa, Edmonton, Vancouver, Halifax and Calgary. After it integrated operations, the company used the Clarica brand name for certain products and activities until 2007.

In 2005, Sun Life opened a service center in Gurgaon, India to provide business processing and technology support for Sun Life Financial business units around the world. That same year, Sun Life purchased CMG Asia and CommServe Financial, the Hong Kong insurance and pension operations of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, tripling its customer base and adding group insurance and pensions to its business lines.

In 2007, Sun Life purchased the U.S. employee benefits business of Genworth Financial, placing itself in the top 10 in the U.S. group benefits market.

In 2008, Sun Life sold its 37% interest in CI Financial Income Fund to Scotiabank. Sun Life had originally acquired a significant ownership interest in the firm by selling its Canadian mutual fund subsidiaries to CI Financial in 2002.In 2009, Sun Life began an aggressive nationwide ad campaign in the United States touting its strength and the fact that it did not accept any bailout money.

2010s

In 2013, Sun Life acquired 49% Aviva PLC's Malaysian insurance joint venture with lender CIMB Group. Sun Life acquired the business along with Malaysian state investor Khazanah Nasional, which also purchased 49%. They each paid approximately CDN$300 million. CIMB retains 2% interest.

In 2015, Sun Life acquired the Employee Benefits business of Assurant Inc. The transaction closed in March 2016, creating the sixth-largest group benefits business in the U.S.

In 2017, the Toronto Raptors of the National Basketball Association announced that Sun Life will become their jersey sponsor beginning with the 2017–18 NBA season. This deal continues through the 2019/2020 season.

In June 2019, Sun Life re-branded its Sun Life Investment Management unit to SLC Management and fully merged its fixed income businesses, Ryan Labs Asset Management Inc. and Prime Advisors, Inc. with Sun Life Capital Management

In addition, in July 2019, SLC's real estate division was merged under the name BentallGreenOak Real Estate.In December 2020, Dean Connor announced his intent to retire as President and CEO in August 2021. He was then replaced by Kevin Strain, who was the former Chief Financial Officer at Sun Life.


Mission

Helping our Clients achieve lifetime financial security and live healthier lives.


Key Team

Mr. Daniel Richard Fishbein (Pres of Sun Life U.S.)

Mr. Jacques Goulet Jr. (Pres of Sun Life Canada)

Ms. Leigh Chalmers (Sr. VP and Head of Corp. Fin. & Capital Management)

Ms. Laura Ann Money (Exec. VP, Chief Information & Technology Innovation Officer)

Yaniv Bitton (VP, Head of Investor Relations & Capital Markets)

Ms. Melissa Jane Kennedy (Exec. VP and Chief Legal Officer & Public Affairs)

Joe Hanlon (Sr. MD & Chief Compliance Officer)


References
Sun Life Financial
Leadership team

Mr. Manjit Singh C.A., CPA (Exec. VP & CFO)

Mr. Stephen Clarkson Peacher CFA (Pres of SLC Management)

Products/ Services
Finance, Financial Services, Insurance
Number of Employees
20,000 - 50,000
Headquarters
Basingstoke, Hampshire, United Kingdom
Established
1893
Company Registration
SEC CIK number: 0001097362
Net Income
1B - 20B
Revenue
Above - 1B
Traded as
TSX:SLF
Fri Mar 01 2024
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