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Announcement

July 07, 2020

Sun Life's Group Retirement Services launches proprietary ESG framework

New framework makes sustainable investing easier for group retirement Clients

Sun Life Financial Inc. Logo (CNW Group/Sun Life Financial Inc.)

TORONTO, July 7, 2020 /CNW/ - Sun Life's Group Retirement Services (GRS) is pleased to announce the launch of its proprietary Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) evaluation framework for its core investment platform of 23 investment managers and over 140 investment options. This new framework will be instrumental in helping plan sponsors and members make informed decisions when it comes to sustainable investing.

"This new evaluation framework is an expansion of the strong governance process we have in place today for our investment platform," said Tom Reid, Senior Vice-President, Group Retirement Services, Sun Life Canada. "Having a resilient and sustainable workplace plan is more important than ever. This added guidance will help Clients make more informed decisions about the investment choices in their savings plans."

As the COVID-19 global pandemic unfolded in the first half of 2020, sustainable investment strategies saw record inflows by individual investors. In addition, sustainable indices outperformed broad market benchmarks, a trend seen in previous market crises. The pandemic has put a spotlight on sustainable investing, particularly how companies are able to pivot and react quickly to social and governance issues.

While a variety of ESG scoring providers are available, at both a fund and security level, no single provider covers all GRS investment platform options. In isolation, an ESG score for a fund can create confusion and lack relevance for Clients.

Sun Life's approach for Clients has two objectives:

  • Identify ESG leaders (managers and funds), in every major asset category offered on the GRS core investment platform using proprietary criteria, and
  • Make it easy for plan sponsors to understand the level of ESG integration for the investment options they offer in their retirement savings plans.

Developed by the GRS Investment Solutions team, the new evaluation framework aligns to Sun Life's corporate-wide sustainability plan.

Sun Life's Sustainability Strategy

Sustainable investing is one of three core pillars of Sun Life's new sustainability plan, which also prioritizes financial security and healthier lives. Sun Life integrates ESG considerations into its own investment process, managing $168.6 billion of invested assets for its General Account at March 31, 2020. Sun Life's overall sustainable investment philosophy is built on three beliefs:

  • Sustainable investing can improve long-term returns
  • ESG factors are incorporated to manage risks and identify opportunities
  • Engagement is more powerful than divestment

"This is an exciting and important step in our sustainability journey, and delivers on our Purpose of helping Canadians achieve lifetime financial security and live healthier lives," said Melissa Kennedy, Executive Vice-President, Chief Legal Officer & Executive Sponsor of Sustainability, Sun Life. "We are proud that GRS is taking a leadership role on sustainability by empowering Clients with the same rigour that we use to manage our own assets."

To learn more about Sun Life's new sustainability plan and read our 2019 Sustainability Report, visit sunlife.com/sustainability.

About Sun Life
Sun Life is a leading international financial services organization providing insurance, wealth and asset management solutions to individual and corporate Clients. Sun Life has operations in a number of markets worldwide, including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, India, China, Australia, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia and Bermuda. As of March 31, 2020, Sun Life had total assets under management of $1,023 billion. For more information, please visit www.sunlife.com.

Sun Life Financial Inc. trades on the Toronto (TSX), New York (NYSE) and Philippine (PSE) stock exchanges under the ticker symbol SLF.

Note to editors: All figures in Canadian dollars

Media Relations Contact:                                     
Gannon Loftus
Director, Corporate Communications
T. 647-228-8244
gannon.loftus@sunlife.com 

SOURCE Sun Life Financial Inc.