Sun Life Reports Q1 2017 results

by David Keelaghan10 May 2017
The last of Canada’s life insurance Big Three has reported its first quarter earnings, as Sun Life Financial announced its results yesterday. The firm recorded net income of $551 million for Q1 2017, which is an improvement on the $540 million of the same quarter in 2016. This spurred the board to increase its common share dividend from $0.015 to $0.435 per share.

While the firm’s asset management division saw high outflows within its mutual fund business, insurance sales represented a major success, as Dean Connor, president and CEO of Sun Life Financial outlined.

"We achieved strong top line growth with a 58% increase in insurance sales and 13% increase in wealth sales, compared to the same period last year,” he said. “Assets under management grew to $927 billion during the quarter, and our Canadian and Asia pillars performed well, however, we saw lower results in our US business and MFS continued to experience recent trends in net outflows."

Taking its Canadian business in isolation, individual insurance sales doubled to $144 million, driven by strong third-party sales of participating whole life and universal life insurance. The firm credited this in large part to recent tax legislation changes, as well as successful product design changes. Group benefits sales also more than doubled and Group Retirement Services sales increased by approximately 76% compared to the first quarter of 2016.

Addressing the growth, Connor pointed to the firm’s commitment to innovation, which was being embraced by more and more consumers.

"In the quarter we continued to make it easier for clients to do business with us, and to be more proactive,” he said. “For example, for a portion of our Canadian plan sponsors whose employees use our new digital enrolment tool, we helped them get the most from their plans and this contributed to an increase in retirement savings in 70% of these plans.”

The Asian market has also become a key driver for overall profitability, with individual insurance sales increasing by 31% over the first quarter compared to the year prior.

During the quarter global assets under management also increased from $903 billion at the end of 2016 to $927 billion by the end of Q1 2017.

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