December 13, 2011

Sun Life Financial to Exit Annuity Business

Existing policies not affected by ‘difficult decision,’ company says

Sun Life Financial announced Monday that it will exit the annuity business effective Dec. 30, costing jobs in its Wellesley, Mass., and Portsmouth, N.H., offices.

“As part of a strategic plan to accelerate growth, improve return on shareholders’ equity and reduce volatility, Sun Life Financial will close its domestic U.S. variable annuity and individual life products to new sales,” Priscilla Brown, senior vice president of marketing for Sun Life US, said in a statement. “We remain committed to meeting the needs of our existing customers. The decision will not impact existing policies, which are backed by the operating companies of Sun Life Financial, which are among the highest rated insurance companies in North America.”

The Canadian insurance company, founded in 1865 and headquartered in Toronto, has offices in 25 countries and $459 billion in assets under management.  

“These are difficult decisions and we regret the impact it has on individuals, and will provide support and transition assistance to all of our affected employees,” Brown said. “To achieve growth in the U.S., we will focus on increasing sales in our employee benefits business, where we are already a top 10 player, and expand our presence in the growing voluntary benefits segment." She added that Sun Life will also continue to “support growth in MFS, our highly successful investment manager that has a large U.S. presence and over $250 billion of assets under management globally.”

Sun Life is the second major carrier to in as many weeks to announce it is leaving the annuity business. John Hancock made a similar announcement Nov. 30, blaming “volatile equity markets and the historically low interest rate environment.”

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