TORONTO–Manulife plans to transform its Canadian business, including a program to digitize and consolidate a number of its back-office functions, optimize its head office real-estate footprint, retrain and hire employees with digital skills, and refocus its customer experience across all business lines to continue to serve the evolving needs of its customers.

“People have embraced technology in most aspects of life, and they expect their financial services provider to do the same, delivering simple, intuitive and personalized products and services that meet their needs. Our industry has not kept pace with this change,” said Michael Doughty, President and Chief Executive Officer, Manulife Canada. “As a result, we are transforming our business to become a customer-centric market leader, which includes a focus on digital innovation and operational efficiency to ensure we remain competitive and make it easier for customers to do business with us.”

By digitizing and automating existing customer transactions and consolidating other administrative and operational back-office functions in its centres of expertise, Manulife expects to reduce its Canadian workforce by approximately 700 roles over the next 18 months. It will achieve this through a voluntary exit program and natural attrition.

In Kitchener-Waterloo, the Company is also combining its Canadian Division headquarters into one location from two, at its 500 King Street North location, reinventing its workplace to foster more collaboration and innovation, and ensuring that its real-estate footprint efficiently matches the needs of its business. Manulife remains fully committed to Kitchener-Waterloo, as well as its major operating locations in Halifax, Toronto, Oakville and Montreal.

Manulife employs about 35,000 people globally, including more than 13,000 in Canada, where the Company ranks among Canada’s Best Employers according to Forbes and Canada’s Top Employers For Young People. Manulife has increased its workforce in Canada by about 2,000 in the last five years.

Expanding digital capabilities, reorienting customer experience focus and growing the business

To achieve its digital ambitions, Manulife is actively hiring and retraining employees across Canada with the skills necessary to compete in the new economy. This includes skills that cover the full software development stack, from server and hosting expertise to data modelling, user interface design and user experience, in addition to customer journey experts and agile coaches and leaders. Manulife’s locations in technology hubs such as Kitchener-Waterloo, Montreal and Toronto provide it with ideal access to talent in these disciplines. The Company has also opened innovation labs in these locations to research and develop the next generation of products and services for customers and maintain a close connection to the start-up ecosystem.

The digitization and consolidation of its back-office operations, as well as the plans to attract and train more top technology talent are part of a broader effort by Manulife Canada to re-orient its customer experience across each of its business lines.

“We believe that to meet and exceed our customers’ expectations, we must provide personalized service at the moments in life when they most need our support and advice, whether that’s a birth, a first home purchase, retirement or the death of a loved one,” Doughty said. “We are building our customer service model around this concept, and leveraging technology to achieve it in a modern, relevant and exciting way.”

The actions announced today are part of Manulife’s plan to continue growing its Canadian business. A recent example is the Company’s re-entry into the participating whole life insurance market with its Manulife Par product. Set to launch on June 23, Manulife Par is a participating whole life solution that enables the Company to better help advisors cover the permanent insurance needs for customers. Whole life products represent over 50 per cent of all insurance sales in the Canadian market, and Manulife is strongly positioned to take advantage of this opportunity. Manulife is increasingly leveraging technology to fuel its business growth. This includes the recent launch of its Artificial Intelligence Decision Algorithm, or “AIDA,” which makes Manulife the first insurer in Canada to use an AI tool to automatically make underwriting decisions.

Doughty concluded: “We expect the plans we’re announcing today will have a significant positive impact on our business, simultaneously improving customer experience, reducing costs to make us more competitive, and enhancing our workforce to ensure we can win in a world of rapidly changing customer expectations.”

Manulife Financial Corporation is a leading international financial services group with 35,000 employees, 73,000 agents, and thousands of distribution partners, serving more than 26 million customers. As of March 31, 2018, we had over $1.1 trillion (US$850 billion) in assets under management and administration, and in the previous 12 months we made $26.9 billion in payments to  customers. With global headquarters in Toronto, Canada, they trade as ‘MFC’ on the Toronto, New York, and the Philippine stock exchanges and under ‘945’ in Hong Kong.

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