Sun Life Financial to cut 50 management-level positions in Canada

Sun Life Financial Inc. is expected to cut approximately 50 management-level positions in Canada as part of ongoing cost-cutting measures after the life insurer succumbed to its first quarterly loss in two years.

"While these decisions were very difficult and unfortunate, they are important in the context of doing business in today's uncertain economic climate," said Kevin Dougherty, president of Sun Life Financial Canada, in an internal memo reviewed by Dow Jones Newswires.

The organizational changes were made "after very extensive reviews," said Dougherty, adding that Sun Life is providing transitional support to those who will be affected.

Frank Switzer, a spokesman at Sun Life Financial, confirmed the managerial layoffs, adding that this is part of an overall 90-employee pruning at Sun Life. Some 40 corporate jobs will also be cut across the company--not in any specific area, said Switzer.

"Like any business in the current economic environment, we are looking for efficiencies as our business needs change," Switzer added.

The layoffs come as Sun Life's new chief executive, Dean Connor, steps up efforts to restructure the business amid historically low interest rates that have affected earnings.

Connor, who officially took over from Don Stewart on Thursday, told Dow Jones Newswires last month that he had already initiated a review to contain costs and reduce the company's vulnerability to equity markets and interest rates.

Sun Life, the third-largest life insurer in Canada, posted a hefty third-quarter loss because of extreme market volatility that primarily hurt its U.S. individual life and variable annuity businesses.

Dougherty said Sun Life plans to continue to invest strategically in innovative wealth and insurance solutions to expand its Canadian businesses in coming years but needs to do more cost cutting.

"It has become clear that we need to do more to manage our costs in today's uncertain economic climate so that we can make these investments and continue to be successful," Dougherty said in the memo.

He called on Sun Life employees to help contain costs by looking for new ways to "streamline, avoid unnecessary expenses" and innovate to find efficiencies.

Source: WSJ