Sun Life Financial, Inc. history, profile and history video
Sun Life Financial, Inc. is a diversified financial services company. It provides life and health insurance, savings, investment management, retirement and pension products and services to both individual and corporate customers. The company operates its business through five segments: Sun Life Financial Canada, Sun Life Financial United States, MFS Investment Management, Inc., Sun Life Financial Asia and Corporate Support. The Sun Life Financial Canada segment provides group benefits and retirement solutions sponsored by employers and affinity groups and more recently distributes directly through the Internet and other channels. The Sun Life Financial United States segment provides annuities, life insurance and group benefits. The MFS Investment Management segment is a global asset management company which offers products and services that address the varying needs of investors over time. The Sun Life Financial Asia segment operates through subsidiaries in the Philippines, Hong Kong and Indonesia and through joint ventures with local partners in Indonesia, India and China. The Corporate Support segment includes Sun Life Financial United Kingdom and corporate support operations, which include run-off reinsurance business as well as investment income, expenses, capital and other items. The company was founded by Mathew Hamilton Gault on March 18, 1865 and is headquartered in Toronto, Canada.”
“Sun Life Financial History
Pre-World War II
Founded in Montreal, Quebec, as The Sun Insurance Company of Montreal in 1865 by Mathew Hamilton Gault, an Irish immigrant who settled in Montreal in 1842, its 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, 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-storey 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 Buildingwas at the time the largest building in terms of square footage anywhere in the British Empire.
Charted in 1865, they are firmly committed to the life insurance business, worldwide. Having begun their first US operations in 1895, they sold their first group life plan in the U.S. in 1924.
World War II
In World War II, the British Crown Jewels as well as the gold reserves of several European countries were moved to what is now known as the Old Sun Life Building for safekeeping. The Sun Life Company also reports that this building “…and its basement was the secret storage location of British securities during World War II.”
Post-World War II
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.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 regards 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. In 1977, the newly elected sovereigntist Quebec government passed theCharter of the French Language (known as Bill 101), making the use of French language mandatory for medium- and large-scale companies when communicating with French-speaking staff. This 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. On January 6, 1978, the company scaled down the Montreal facilities to serve as a branch service bureau while shifting 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 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.
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 could not speak French fluently. Sun Life was quite clear that this was the reason for their move when they 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 were made on a per department basis and did not commence until several months after the announcement of the move.
The transfer of Sun Life’s Head Office from Montreal to Toronto is viewed by many to be the start of an exodus of corporate entities from Montreal, but Sun Life was not the first company to leave. Many companies had left long before Sun Life did, only on a much quieter, private basis.
There were several other key activities in the post-war years including the 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 bought back its shares for $65 million in total. In 1973, Sun Life opened its American subsidiary’s new headquarters in Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts at the outskirts of Boston.
1980s – 1990s
Sun Life continued to expand its wealth management business with the 1982 acquisition of Massachusetts Financial Services (MFS), 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 Indonesia market through local company PT Asuransi Modern Sun Life, now called PT Sun Life Financial Indonesia and opened a Representative Office in Beijing in preparation to enter China. A year later, Sun Life opened a services centre 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 local partner Aditya Birla Group, and Sun Life Everbright in China with partner China Everbright Limited. Over the next decade, both operations grew rapidly – by September 2008, there were 132,460 Birla Sun 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.
2000 to present
In early 1998, Sun Life announced its intention to demutualize. In March 2000, its Initial Public Offering (IPO) started the trading of its shares on the Toronto (TSX), New York (NYSE) and Philippine (PSE) stock exchanges.
In 2002, Sun Life combined its operations with Clarica Life Insurance Company of Waterloo, Ontario. Founded in 1870 as Mutual Life of Canada, Clarica was known as The Mutual Group before it went public in 1999. Waterloo, Ontario became the home to the Canadian operations (at 227 King Street South, formerly head office for Mutual Life Assurance Company) while a regional office and Sun Life’s corporate headquarters remained in Toronto. There are also regional offices in Montreal, Ottawa, Edmonton, Vancouver, Halifax andCalgary. After the operations were integrated, the Clarica brand name continued to be used for certain products and activities until its retirement in 2007.
In 2005, Sun Life opened a service centre 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 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 mutual fund subsidiaries to CI Financial in 2002. While it no longer owns an interest in CI Financial, Sun Life continues to have a distribution arrangement with CI Financial.
At September 30, 2008, Sun Life had assets under management of Cdn $389 billion and including joint ventures had more than 28,000 employees and 147,590 advisors in 22 countries serving more than 25 million customers worldwide. Birla Sun Life Insurance is ranked as one of the top six privately owned life insurers in India. While in Canada, Sun Life is ranked #1 in several lines of business including Defined Contribution Pension Plans, Group RRSPs and Deferred Profit Sharing Plans.
Sun Life Financial Inc. shares trade on the Toronto, New York, and Philippines stock exchanges. It is one of Standard & Poor’s Global 1200 companies.
In 2009, Sun Life began an aggressive nationwide ad campaign in the United States touting their strength and the fact that they did not accept any bailout money. The commercials parody the concept of naming rights, where a couple naïve employees go around the country attempting to put the company’s name on various sun-themed things, from KC and the Sunshine Band to Cirque du Soleil to the state of Florida. In a case of life imitating art, they would actually purchase naming rights to the former Dolphin Stadiumin Miami.
On January 18, 2010, Sun Life purchased the naming rights for the home field of the Miami Dolphins for a reported US$7.5 million per year. Under the five year contract the stadium will be named Sun Life Stadium.
In January 2013, Sun Life acquired Aviva PLC’s Malaysian insurance joint venture with lender CIMB Group for a total of $597 million. Sun Life acquired the business along with Malaysian state investor Khazanah Nasional.
*Information from Forbes.com and Wikipedia.org
**Video published on YouTube by “ Sun Life Financial“