Sun Life Financial to cut 800 jobs in US

Canadian insurance giant Sun Life Financial is cutting some 800 U.S. jobs, with roughly half of the layoffs hitting the firm’s American headquarters in Wellesley.

“It’s fair to say that the vast majority of the impacts will be in the Boston area,” Sun Life spokesman Frank Switzer told the Herald, saying the firm will cut some 400 jobs in Wellesley, Boston and Portsmouth, N.H.

Sun Life CEO Dean Connor announced the layoffs today as part of a plan to “reposition” the Toronto-based firm.

He said Sun Life, which also owns Boston-based MFS Investment Management, will stop selling variable annuities and individual life insurance policies in the United States on Dec. 30.

The company will instead focus its U.S. business on offering large insurance policies to employers, as well as on offering add-on products like dental insurance that employees pay extra for.

“Today begins a new chapter in the history of Sun Life Financial,” Connor said.

Switzer said Sun Life is shaking up its business because today’s low interest-rate environment makes variable annuities hard to profitably sell.

He said eliminating variable annuities in turn makes selling individual life-insurance policies no longer viable.

John Hancock Financial Services, owned by Canada’s Manulife, announced plans last month to downsize its variable-annuities business, cutting 116 jobs in Boston.

Sun Life has already told some affected employees that they’re losing their jobs, with others set to get pink slips in the next few weeks or months.

However, Switzer said the company plans to retain its Wellesley campus, which currently has some 2,650 employees.

The spokesman added that today’s announcement doesn’t affect MFS, which has some 1,400 Greater Boston staffers.

Source: Boston Herald