Driving innovation

Doing business on the leading edge

Sun Life has a long, proud history built on many industry firsts. Among them: We introduced the world’s first unconditional life insurance policy. We were the first to offer group life insurance in Canada. And our subsidiary MFS Investment Management “invented” the mutual fund.

But our continued success depends on looking ahead – on remaining at the forefront of product development, embracing digital technology and responding to new Client realities. Today’s environment is evolving at lightning speed – yesterday’s best practice is today’s norm and tomorrow’s museum piece.

That’s why Sun Life is continuously surveying the landscape for ways to keep our competitive edge. We’re investing in the key building blocks that will ramp up our Client focus. We’re reinventing processes, investing in ground-breaking digital tools and relentlessly searching for strategies and tactics to enhance our leadership position and support our mission to help our Clients achieve lifetime financial security.

These are just a few recent examples of Sun Life’s forward thinking:


Meet Ella – a digital coach for the journey to lifetime financial security and a healthier life

In a Canadian insurance industry first, Sun Life’s online assistant, Ella is helping our Clients make the best use of their employee benefit plans and maximize their retirement savings. She currently provides information, insight and advice through highly sophisticated data analytics, and will become increasingly interactive through artificial intelligence.

On the benefits side, Ella is helping ensure plan members get the most value from their plans, leave no money on the table and make smart decisions for their coverage. And through smart speakers like Google Home and soon, Amazon Alexa, Ella can help anyone – Sun Life plan member or not – find a dentist, physiotherapist, chiropractor or massage therapist.

On the pensions side, Ella is revolutionizing how plan members use and take part in their pension plans, and is helping them take full advantage of the tools and services that their employers provide.


Discovering MaRS – technology that’s transforming our world

Innovation loves company. That’s why Sun Life has partnered with North America’s largest innovation hub, the MaRS Discovery District in Toronto. MaRS is a leader in the trend towards urban innovation districts, which give entrepreneurs access to corporations, investors, mentors, universities and labs so they can catalyze, accelerate, scale and diffuse innovation. Through MaRS, we are connected to financial technology start-ups with cutting-edge solutions that will enable us to expand our digital innovation agenda and continue to lead the way in transforming our industry and responding to our Clients’ changing needs and expectations.


Leading the charge against diabetes – celebrity athletes, actors, chefs and musicians join our journey

At Sun Life, we are committed to helping raise awareness and funds for the prevention, care and research of diabetes. We’re partnering with professional athletes, actors, celebrity chefs and musicians in North America, Asia and the United Kingdom, as well as with leading experts at hospitals, clinics and universities to shine a spotlight on the cause. Sun Life is leading the charge against diabetes on several fronts. And at the intersection of our corporate citizenship and the way we do business, we have created something really new: In a pilot program in Hong Kong, we’re offering standard life insurance rates to Clients with diabetes (who would typically otherwise pay higher premiums) who attend diabetes clinics regularly and manage their condition successfully for 2 years. This is just one of the ways Sun Life is working to improve the health and wellness of our clients, employees and the community.


Corporate headquarters breaks record for environmental sustainability

Sun Life’s new corporate headquarters at One York Street in Toronto has earned a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum certification, with the highest score ever awarded to a Toronto building. That means meeting internationally recognized standards for air quality, access to natural light and effective energy and water conservation programs. Among the building’s energy-saving features are a “light harvesting” system, which monitors daylight and adjusts artificial light accordingly, a rooftop garden, 300 bicycle racks and “deep lake water cooling,” which draws cold water from nearby Lake Ontario to cool the building, using far less electricity than traditional air conditioning.

One York Street also reflects the latest thinking in office design. Today, thanks to technology, people can be accessible from anywhere, anytime – and that’s changing the way we work together, communicate with one another and do business with our Clients. There is a global shift away from traditional office design, where up to 90% of floor space was dedicated to offices and cubicles, leaving only 10% for meeting rooms and virtually nowhere for impromptu team huddles.

Opened in 2017, our One York Street headquarters features spaces that can serve a variety of purposes at different times, offering more balance, more flexibility and more choice in working styles, and giving us a competitive edge in attracting, developing and retaining top talent. The offices also host a series of interactive installations – the digital canvas – that bring the Sun Life message to life in an engaging and compelling way.


Mobile financial app a first for Filipino Clients

Our 5 million-plus Clients in the Philippines can engage with us to manage their accounts anytime, anywhere, thanks to the Sun Life PH mobile app. We built the app – a first for the Philippines’ insurance and mutual funds industry – using the latest design and testing methods, and our Clients downloaded it more than 60,000 times in the first 4 months after it went live.

The app also includes an office locator, a find-an-advisor feature and a frequently asked questions section.