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Montage of images representing history of Sun Life
  • 1865

    The company gets its charter, but poor economic conditions interrupt plans to move forward.

  • 1871

    The Sun Mutual Life Insurance Company of Montreal begins operations. The initial shareholders invest $50,000 in cash.

  • 1882

    The company’s name changes to the Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada.

  • 1893

    Sun Life begins operations in the U.K.

  • 1895

    U.S. operations are established in Detroit, and the company expands into the Philippines.

  • 1899

    Between 1880 and the turn of the century, Sun Life’s reach extends throughout the West Indies and to Bermuda, South America and several markets in Asia including China, Hong Kong, India and Japan.

  • 1914

    World War I – many Sun Life employees contribute to the war effort, and the company’s sales force helps to distribute war bonds.

    In Montreal, construction begins on the landmark building known around the world as The Sun Life Building, the largest of its era in the British Empire. Its final phase is completed in 1933.

  • 1919

    Sun Life is the first Canadian company to offer group insurance – within a few years it’s an important provider of group plans throughout North America.

  • 1920

    Sun Life now has operations in 55 countries around the world.

  • 1930s

    Sun Life faces the challenges of the Great Depression. By 1936, company assets are rising again. In 1937, dividends are paid to shareholders for the first time since 1932.

  • 1940- 1945

    World War II – The company is a leading subscriber of Canadian, British and American war bonds and many of its employees join the war effort overseas. In 1940, the Bank of England begins using a vault three floors beneath the Sun Life building in Montreal to safeguard $5 billion in foreign securities.

  • Post- War Years

    Around the world, economic and political changes cause Sun Life to leave many markets, but its good reputation serves it well when those same countries re-open in future years.

  • 1956

    The company enters the health and accident insurance business.

  • 1958

    Sun Life is a pioneer in technology, buying its first computer – a 24-ton Univac II – which sits on a half-acre of space in the company’s head office.

  • 1962

    Sun Life becomes a mutual company, buying back its shares for $65 million in total.

  • 1973

    The company opens its new U.S. headquarters in Wellesley Hills near Boston.

  • 1978

    Sun Life moves its headquarters from Montreal to Toronto.

  • 1982

    Sun Life acquires Massachusetts Financial Services (MFS), the Boston-based investment management and mutual fund company. MFS “invented the mutual fund” in the U.S., having created the first such fund in 1924.

  • 1984

    Construction of Sun Life’s worldwide corporate headquarters is completed at the intersection of King and University, in the heart of Toronto’s business district.

  • 1987

    The company enters the mutual fund business in Canada by forming Spectrum Mutual Fund Services.

    In the United Kingdom, it opens its new British headquarters in Basingstoke, southwest of London.

  • 1992

    Sun Life’s worldwide life insurance in-force passes the $300 billion mark.

  • 1995

    A new era of expansion in Asia begins. Sun Life enters the Indonesia market through local company PT Asuransi Modern Sun Life, now called PT Sun Life Financial Indonesia.

    The company opens a Representative Office in Beijing, as a first step to applying for a license to operate in China.

  • 1996

    Sun Life establishes Bermuda-based business, offering products to international high-net-worth clients.

  • 1997

    In Canada, the company increases its investment management presence by acquiring the leading firm McLean Budden.

  • 1998

    On January 27, Sun Life announces its intention to demutualize. The planning, approvals and implementation occurs over the following 2 years.

    Sun Life opens a services centre in Waterford, Ireland, providing technology and business processing support to many parts of the company.

  • 1999

    As the insurance market re-opens to foreign companies, Sun Life returns to India after a 40-year absence, forming the joint venture Birla Sun Life with the highly respected Aditya V. Birla Group.

    In China, Sun Life joins with well-established local partner the China Everbright Group Limited to form the joint venture life insurance company Sun Life Everbright.

    Capping off the year, on December 15, eligible policyholders approve the plan to demutualize. Becoming a public company will enable Sun Life to raise capital more efficiently and gain greater flexibility to compete globally in the financial services industry.

  • 2000

    On March 23, Sun Life Financial Inc. has its Initial Public Offering (IPO) and its shares begin trading on the Toronto (TSX), New York (NYSE) and Philippine (PSE) stock exchanges.

    Hong Kong becomes home to the company’s Asia Regional Office.

  • 2001

    On December 17, Sun Life Financial and the Clarica Life Insurance Company announce an agreement to create a powerhouse in the Canadian marketplace. The merger is completed in 2002 and by year's end 2003 the operations are fully integrated.

  • 2002

    Sun Life Everbright is granted approval to sell life insurance in Tianjin, China, becoming the first foreign life insurance joint venture to operate in that city and its neighbouring counties. It sells its first insurance policy on April 25.

    Sun Life Financial joins forces with CI Investments, one of Canada’s largest mutual fund companies, acquiring a significant ownership interest in the firm by selling its Canadian mutual fund subsidiaries to CI. Through a strategic partnership, CI begins distributing its products through Sun Life’s Canadian career sales force.

  • 2003

    Business in China and India is growing strong. Sun Life Everbright’s Tianjin operation has an agency force of 2,500 advisors and expands into bancassurance with 3 local banks. Birla Sun Life experiences rapid sales growth and has 9,000 agents across 33 cities and plans for further expansion.

  • 2004

    The company’s Canadian group retirement services business is ranked as the leading provider of employer-sponsored retirement plans in the country.

    Sun Life Everbright receives approvals and starts selling life insurance in Beijing, its second city of operation in China.

  • 2005

    Sun Life Financial completes its purchase of CMG Asia and CommServe Financial, the Hong Kong insurance and pension operations of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. The acquisition significantly strengthens the company’s presence in Hong Kong by boosting its sales force, tripling its customer base and adding group insurance and pensions to its business lines.

    A service centre is opened in Gurgaon, India, to provide technology and business support to Sun Life Financial businesses around the world.

    Sun Life Financial is named to the inaugural list of The Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World for excellence in social, environmental and strategic governance practices and appears on the list in many subsequent years.

  • 2006

    In the growing Asia business group, earnings top $100 million for the first time with strong sales growth in each of its markets: Hong Kong, the Philippines, India, China and Indonesia.

  • 2007

    The company announces an integrated brand strategy in Canada and retires the Clarica brand name. It launches a new advertising campaign under the banner “Life’s brighter under the sun.”

    Sun Life Financial purchases the employees benefits business of Genworth Financial, solidifying its top-10 position in the U.S. group benefits market.

    International expansion continues: by year-end, Sun Life Everbright operates in 16 cities in China, the Birla Sun Life agency force is 85,000 strong across 256 cities in India, and MFS is a growing international investment management presence with US$200 billion in assets under management.

  • 2008

    Sun Life Financial sells its 37% interest in CI Financial, unlocking over $2 billion of value, enhancing the company’s financial strength and flexibility. Sun Life continues to have a strong product and distribution partnership with CI.

  • 2009

    In the face of the global financial crisis, Sun Life Financial remains among the world’s strongest insurance companies and continues building its businesses.

    The company’s U.K. operations double in size with the acquisition of Lincoln National’s U.K. business.

    CIMB Sun Life is formed to deliver insurance products to customers of the CIMB Niaga bank across Indonesia.

    A major brand campaign is launched to significantly raise awareness of the company in the U.S. under the banner "Get to Know Sun Life."

  • 2010

    Sun Life Financial continues to build its brand around the world and acquires naming rights to Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Florida.

    Sun Life Financial celebrates a double anniversary in March – 10 years since the company demutualized and became a public company on March 22, 2000 – and 145 years since its founding on March 18, 1865.

    Sun Life Global Investments (Canada) Inc. is launched, bringing Sun Life Financial’s global asset management platform to Canadians.

    In China, Sun Life Everbright is restructured as a domestic insurer and accelerates its expansion to capture a larger share of the growing Chinese financial services market.

  • 2011

    Further building its asset management business, Sun Life Financial combines its Canadian asset management firm, McLean Budden, with its global asset management subsidiary, MFS, giving the combined company an expanded research platform and a broader range of investment offerings.

    Sun Life Financial acquires a 49% interest in Grepalife Financial, Inc., a Philippine life insurance company, creating a new joint venture called Sun Life Grepa Financial. The joint venture has an exclusive bancassurance relationship to distribute insurance through branches of the Yuchengco-owned Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation nationwide.

    Sun Life Everbright receives regulatory approval in China to establish Sun Life Everbright Insurance Asset Management Company, only the 12th such license issued in China.

  • 2012

    Sun Life Financial and PVI Holdings establish a joint venture insurance company in Vietnam, called PVI Sun Life Insurance Company Limited (PVI Sun Life).

    On World Diabetes Day the company announces a 5-year commitment to the University Health Network in Toronto. To date we have committed $10 million toward this cause that will help advance innovation in diabetes research, prevention, education and care initatives. The donation also places the company’s name on the world-renowned Sun Life Financial Banting and Best Diabetes Clinic.

  • 2013

    PVI Sun Life obtains product approval and records its first sales in Vietnam. The new company delivers world-class life insurance products to customers through a career agency force and insurance advisors.

    Sun Life Financial begins operations in Malaysia through Sun Life Malaysia Assurance Berhad and Sun Life Malaysia Takaful Berhad through joint ventures with Khazanah Nasional Berhad and CIMB Group Holdings Berhad. With this launch, Sun Life now operates in 7 Asian markets.

    Sun Life Financial sells its domestic U.S. annuity business. The transaction significantly reduces Sun Life’s risk profile and earnings volatility and enables the company to focus on growing its employee benefits and voluntary benefits business.