Manulife Financial Corporation is a Canadian multinational insurance company and financial services provider headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The company operates in Canada and Asia as "Manulife" and in the United States primarily through its John Hancock Financial division. As of December 2015, the company employed approximately 34,000 people and had 63,000 agents under contract, and has $935 billion CAD in assets under management and administration. Manulife services over 20 million customers worldwide.
Manulife is the largest insurance company in Canada and the 28th largest fund manager in the world based on worldwide institutional Assets Under Management (AUM).
Manulife Bank of Canada is a wholly owned subsidiary of Manulife.
Manulife was incorporated as "The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company" by Act of Parliament on 23 June 1887 and was headed by Canada's prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, and Ontario's lieutenant-governor, Sir Alexander Campbell (there were no conflict-of-interest guidelines at the time and it was not unusual for public persons to be involved in private industry). The idea for the company came from J.B. Carlile, who came to Canada as an agent for the North American Life Assurance Company. It was his first-hand experience on which the new company's product portfolio was based.
The firm was founded as The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company in 1887. Its first president was Sir John A. Macdonald, the first Prime Minister of Canada. The company sold its first policy outside of Canada in Bermuda in 1893. In 1894, policies were sold in Grenada, Jamaica and Barbados; Trinidad and Tobago, and Haiti in 1895; and British Honduras, British Guiana, China and Hong Kong in 1897.
In 1901, Manulife amalgamated with the Temperance and General Life Assurance Company, a Toronto-based Canadian life insurer that provided preferred rates to abstainers of alcohol. Manulife continued to offer abstainers rates into the 1920s.
In 1931, it opened its first southern China branch in British Hong Kong. Shortly thereafter, it established itself as a leading life insurer in the region with branches in Macau, Swatow and Amoy.
In 1958, shareholders voted to change its legal form from a joint stock company to a mutual organization, making the company privately owned by its policyholders.
In 1984, Manulife announced that it had acquired Waterloo, Ontario-based Dominion Life Assurance Company: a deal that included the purchase of all of the outstanding stock of the company from Lincoln National. Dominion Life was founded in Waterloo in 1889, and Manulife made a commitment to the community to retain a significant presence in Waterloo. In 1988, Manulife opened a new five-storey office building at 500 King St. North in Waterloo to house its Canadian Division.
In 1996, the company entered an agreement with Sinochem to form Shanghai-based Zhong Hong Life Insurance Co. Ltd., China’s first joint venture life insurance company, and was granted a license that made it the second foreign insurer to be allowed re-entry into China.
In 1999, its voting eligible policyholders approved demutualization, and the shares of Manulife, the holding company of The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company and its subsidiaries, began trading on The Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX), the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) under the ticker 'MFC', and on The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong (SEHK) under the ticker ‘945’.
In 2002, Manulife–Sinochem Life Insurance Co. Ltd. was granted approval by the China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRC) to open a branch office in Guangzhou, China, the first branch license granted to a foreign invested joint–venture life insurance company. In 2003, Manulife-Sinochem received approval for a branch office in Beijing, the first multiple-branch license granted to a foreign-invested joint venture life insurance company. The firm is now licensed to operate in more than 50 Chinese cities.
In 2003, Manulife and John Hancock Financial Services, Inc. (including its Canadian subsidiary Maritime Life) announced a tax–free stock–for–stock merger of the companies, creating a global insurance franchise. Completed in April 2004, the merger created the largest life insurer in Canada, second largest in North America, and fifth largest in the world at the time.
In 2013 Richard DeWolfe became the Chair of the company’s board, succeeding Gail Cook-Bennett, who retired after serving 34 years on the board. In 2009, Donald Guloien, the Chief Investment Officer, succeeded Dominic D’Alessandro as President and CEO of the company. Shortly before his departure, D’Alessandro modified his retirement package; the restricted units would only vest for a total of $10 million if the shares reached $36 by the end of 2011, and he would receive $5 million if the shares hit $30. This was in response to shareholders’ reaction to the first quarterly loss ever posted by the firm in its public history. Under Guloien's leadership, the first initiatives were a dividend cut and an equity offering to bolster Manulife's capital levels, making it difficult for the share price to reach the target levels needed to vest.
In September 2009, the company purchased AIC’s Canadian retail investment fund business. In October 2009, it purchased Pottruff & Smith Travel Insurance Brokers Inc., a Canadian broker and third party administrator of travel insurance.
In 2010, the company announced that it had purchased Fortis Bank SA/NV’s1 49 per cent ownership in ABN AMRO TEDA Fund Management Co. Ltd. The new joint venture, Manulife TEDA Fund Management Company Ltd. (Manulife TEDA), provides traditional retail and institutional asset management for clients in China. The other 51 per cent is owned by Northern International Trust, part of Tianjin TEDA Investment Holding Co., Ltd. (TEDA).
In June 2012, the company opened Manulife Cambodia, with headquarters in Phnom Penh.
In September 2014, Manulife agreed to acquire the Canadian operations of Standard Life for a fee of around $3.7 billion.
In 2014, Manulife Financial simplified its logo and brand to refer to itself only as Manulife outside of the United States.
In April 2015, the company announced a partnership with DBS Bank, providing Manulife exclusive access to DBS customers in Singapore, Hong Kong, China and Indonesia in exchange for an initial payment of $1.2 billion USD.
In June 2015, Manulife-Sinochem became the first foreign invested joint-venture life insurance company in China authorized to sell mutual funds.
The company has recently revived discussions of listing a real estate investment trust (REIT) backed by its US office property portfolio on the Singapore Exchange. There were discussions to have the IPO last summer, however the economic climate was lacking for REITs.
In 2016, Manulife became the first Canadian insurance company to offer life insurance to people who are HIV-positive, insuring people who have tested HIV-positive, who are between the ages of 30 and 65, and meet certain other criteria for life insurance policies that would pay up to $2 million upon death.