Explore our milestones
The company gets its charter, but poor economic conditions interrupt plans to move forward.
The Sun Mutual Life Insurance Company of Montreal begins operations. The initial shareholders invest $50,000 in cash.
The company’s name changes to the Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada.
Sun Life begins operations in the U.K.
U.S. operations are established in Detroit, and the company expands into the Philippines.
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.
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.
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.
Sun Life now has operations in 55 countries around the world.
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.
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.
The company enters the health and accident insurance business.
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.
Sun Life becomes a mutual company, buying back its shares for $65 million in total.
The company opens its new U.S. headquarters in Wellesley Hills near Boston.
Sun Life moves its headquarters from Montreal to Toronto.
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.
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.
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.
Sun Life’s worldwide life insurance in-force passes the $300 billion mark.
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.
In Canada, the company increases its investment management presence by acquiring the leading firm McLean Budden.
On January 27, Sun Life announces its intention to demutualize. The planning, approvals and implementation occurs over the following two years.
Sun Life opens a services centre in Waterford, Ireland, providing technology and business processing support to many parts of the company.
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 the company.
On March 23, Sun Life Financial Inc. has its Initial Public Offering (IPO) and its shares begin trading on the Toronto (TSX) and New York (NYSE) stock exchanges, and on the Philippine (PSE) stock exchange the following day.
Hong Kong becomes home to the company’s Asia Regional Office.
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.
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 mutual fund subsidiaries to CI. Through a strategic partnership, CI begins distributing its products through Sun Life’s Canadian career sales force.
Business in China and India is growing stronger. Sun Life Everbright’s Tianjin operation has an agency force of 2,500 advisors and expands into bancassurance with three local banks. Birla Sun Life experiences rapid sales growth and has 9,000 agents across 33 cities and plans for further expansion.
The company’s Canadian group retirement services business is ranked as the leading provider of employer-sponsored retirement plans in the country.
In the U.S., the company’s group insurance business opens four new offices and a new service centre is established in Lethbridge, Alberta.
Sun Life Everbright receives approvals and starts selling life insurance in Beijing, its second city of operation in China.
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 Sun Life’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 businesses around the world.
The company’s annual earnings surpass $2 billion. 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.
For the third year in a row Sun Life Financial is named one of The Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World for excellence in social, environmental and strategic governance practices.
Sun Life Financial 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 and offices in 14 countries. Across all operations Sun Life Financial has offices in 22 countries.
Sun Life Financial sells its 37% interest in CI Financial, unlocking over $2 billion of value that positions the company to take advantage of opportunities for growth. Sun Life continues to have a strong product and distribution partnership with CI.
India experiences rapid growth with an increase of over 76,000 Birla Sun Life advisors in 2008. By year end, there are 161,105 advisors in 600 branches in 55 cities across India. In China, we opened our sixth branch in Guangzhou, the capital city of Guangdong province, bringing our presence to 18 cities across the country.
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. MFS Investment Management records stellar fund performance and further expands internationally. 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."
To further build its brand presence in the U.S., the company acquires naming rights to Sun Life Stadium in Florida – home to the Miami Dolphins football team and other major sporting and entertainment events.
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.
Sun Life 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.
In the Philippines, Sun Life acquires a 49% interest in Grepalife Financial, Inc., creating a new joint venture called Sun Life Grepa Financial. The joint venture includes an exclusive bancassurance relationship with the Yuchengco-owned Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation, which serves 2 million customers in more than 350 branches.
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.
Sun Life and PVI Holdings establish a joint venture insurance company in Vietnam, called PVI Sun Life Insurance Company Limited (PVI Sun Life). The new company will deliver world-class life insurance products to customers across Vietnam.
Sun Life announces the sale of its domestic U.S. annuity business and certain of its U.S. life insurance businesses. The transaction will reduce the company’s risk profile and enable greater focus on its growing employee benefits and voluntary benefits franchises.
On World Diabetes Day the company announces a five-year commitment of $5 million to the University Health Network in Toronto. The donation will advance innovation in diabetes research and care and places the company’s name on the world-renowned Sun Life Financial Banting and Best Diabetes Clinic.