Sun Life Expects Continued Growth

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine subsidiary of Sun Life of Canada is confident it could mirror last year’s record growth in insurance premiums and other assets-related businesses but its president and CEO, Rizalina Mantaring, is keeping a wary eye on possible external shocks which could derail projected gains.

“(Premium-wise) we’re expecting to be probably as good as the prior years,” said Mantaring in an interview. “We originally forecasted a lower amount but so far the industry is shaping up for a very good growth in the first quarter (but) as you know, the potential for external shocks is still there and we’re not fully insulated even though we’re driven by mostly domestic (demand).”

Sun Life registered a 31 percent growth last year from all its core businesses, with total premiums reaching P13.9 billion. Total assets as of the end of December, in the meantime, was P119 billion or up 16 percent year-on-year while total benefits amounted to P7.2 billion.

Mantaring said the insurance and banking sectors remain very stable however projections still depend on what is happening outside of the Philippines. “We can’t help it (lingering concerns) because external conditions will have impact and whatever happens elsewhere, it will always have a spillover effect. Still, we’re actually doing better and more insulated than other Asian financial sectors.”

Despite the fragile economies of the US and eurozone, Mantaring said a 31-percent premium growth this year is doable.

“It’s possible to achieve this again but it will be quite challenging,” she said.

The challenges will be both external and internal, she stressed. “The insurance sector has been growing very fast in the last two years so you’d expect a bit of a breather after that.”

The increase in last year’s premium is mostly driven by its insurance business. “But even our asset management grew very well last year and it continues to do very well,” said Mantaring. “I think it is also the function of the increasing prosperity of the economy. The insurance penetration grows when the country’s economy is growing.”

Bancassurance is another new business that Sun Life is raking big gains. “It is doing very well, much better than we expected. We’re doing over 200 percent of our sales last year and we already did more than a P1 billion in the first quarter alone. For the second quarter, the phase is even better,” she said.

It was in 2011 when Sun Life concluded its joint venture agreement with the Yuchengco Group’s Grepalife to form a bancassurance unit called Sun Life Grepa. As of the end of the first quarter 2012, premiums collected has exceeded P1 billion.

Sun Life Grepa, which is 49 percent owned by Sun Life of Canada, launched three variable universal life (VUL) products this year. VUL products are life insurance products that are enhanced with an investment component, the company said in a statement.

The bancassurance company, with Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. as partner bank, currently manages 126 bancassurance sales officers that will be later expanded to 150.



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