Headquartered in Toronto, Manulife Financial Corporation is an insurance and financial services provider. Clients includes individuals and institutions throughout Canada, the United States, and Asia. The company, as of December 2015, had $935 billion in assets under management, and roughly 34,000 employees. With over 20 million customers around the globe, Manulife is the largest insurance company in Canada and the 28th largest fund manager globally in terms of assets under management.
Manulife was amalgamated on June 23, 1887 by an Act of Parliament, with its official title being “The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company. The new company was overseen by Canadian Prime Minister Sir John A. MacDonald.
Carlile, managing director of the company, rapidly developed the company’s presence in Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and the new frontier of the West. At its first annual meeting six months following incorporation, the company had brokered 915 policies with a value of $2.5 million (approximately $50 million in today’s terms), and was dubbed “The young Canadian Giant” by the media establishment. This accomplishment was particularly notable because it had taken the company’s competitor, Canada Life, nine years to broker $3 million in policies.
In 1893, the Manufacturer’s Life Insurance Company started to develop its reach internationally. Its first policy in the international sphere was in Bermuda, and this was to be followed by policies brokered in India, China, the Caribbean and South America. In 1901, the company merged with the Temperance and General Life Assurance Company, and in 1903, the company started to broker policies in the U.S. marketplace. In 1915, Canada’s biggest life insurance provider, Sun-Life, began a discussion with Manufacturers to merge the two companies, but the merger never went through following a government review.
In 1925, the company moved its headquarters to Toronto’s Bloor Street – a site it continues to use to this day. Interestingly, the company was able to handle itself quite well during the Great Depression.
In the 1950’s, concerned about takeover attempts, the company held a special meeting of shareholders which voted to allow the company to buy up its own shares (in other words, the company mutualized). This newly formed mutual company was now owned by its policyholders. The company now had offices in the United Kingdom, Singapore, and Hong Kong, and business continued to be robust, with contracted coverage exceeding $3 billion in 1959, and the milestone of $1 billion in assets attained in 1961.
Under the leadership of Sydney Jackson (appointed as president and CEO in 1971), the company entered a new era of opportunity. Company assets increased to $16.4 billion in 1985 (up from $2 billion in 1972). Competitor Sun Life now had approximately $500 million less in assets. In 1984, Manulife bought Dominion Life Assurance Company from Lincoln National, committing to maintain a large presence in the Waterloo region.
In 1990, Manufacturers changed its name to ‘Manulife Financial’. At this point, the company had developed its business far beyond the sale of life insurance, and wanted a name that reflected the wider array of product and service offerings. In the coming years, Manulife would buy and sell a multitude of insurance and investment firms all around the world. In 1996, the company formed an agreement with Sinochem to create China’s first joint venture life insurance company, Zhong Hong Life Insurance Co. Ltd., based in Shanghai.
The late 1990’s saw the company go through a demutualization, and once again to be controlled by public shareholders. On September 25, 1999, the company’s shares began trading on the NYSE and TSX, and shortly thereafter in the Philippines and Hong Kong. In April 2004, a $15 billion merger transaction closed between Manulife and John Hancock Financial Services. Headquartered in Toronto, the newly merged entity created the largest life insurance company in
Canada, the second largest in the United States, and the fifth largest globally.
In terms of operations, Manulife Financial is involved in pension plans, investments, and life and health insurance. The American division of Manulife (known under the brand of John Hancock) operates pension plans for small and medium-sized companies, provides mutual funds to medium-sized companies, and also provides services to wealthy individuals. Today, Manulife also encompasses a Japanese unit of operations and a reinsurance division.
The company’s second largest operating unit is its Canadian division, which offers the largest array of services of any division and includes the Manulife Bank of Canada.
The company’s reinsurance unit provides insurance products to other insurers, and has branches in Germany, Barbados, Canada, and the United States. In 2003, the reinsurance unit generated $216 million in shareholder income.
As a company with international reach and operations, Manulife supports charitable causes on a global scale.
250 Bloor St. East Main C-28
Toll Free: 1-888-626-8543
In Quebec: 1-888-626-8843