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Manulife Financial's CEO Discusses Q1 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

The strength of our underlying earnings reflects our healthier business mix, with the emphasis on wealth management, Insurance products with less risks, higher margins and higher returns. While we're very pleased with our results, the first quarter was not without its challenges. We experienced poor policyholder experience, which we expect at largely a random fluctuation and mutual funds sale's slightly lower than last year. That being said, we reported record funds under management of $512 billion, which fuels current and future fee revenue. In Asia, we delivered record Insurance sales. This demonstrates, among other things, that investments in our brand and distribution are paying off. In Canada, our broad-based diversified financial services strategy has resulted in strong Insurance sales led by record sales in our Group Benefits business. In the United States, we continue to leverage our distribution strength, to deliver solid Insurance, mutual funds and 401(k) sales.

On the investment side, mutual funds managed by Manulife Asset Management received 8 Lipper Awards and our general account asset performance continue to be a strength of the company. In conclusion, I'm pleased with our solid first quarter results, favorable markets, positive hedging results, strong insurance sales and stronger underlying earnings relative to the fourth quarter of 2011 all contributed. We believe these results will provide investors with a sense of the potential of our company and where our strategy is leading us.

Before I turn things over to Michael Bell, I'd like to say a few words. This is Mike's last quarterly earnings call, and I want to give credit to Mike and the team for improving the transparency and understandability of the finances of our company. As I mentioned, we're bringing in a new CFO, Steve Roder, who will continue to lead these improvements. Steve brings to Manulife 25 years of experience in public accounting and his integrity values, professionalism and communication skills will ensure that our disclosure continues to be of the highest quality. In addition, Steve's deep understanding of the financial services market in Asia will be a key asset given our heightened focus on the region. I'm looking forward to working with Steve when he joins us formally at the beginning of June. Michael will be staying with us to ensure a smooth transition of responsibilities. Mike has helped guide Manulife through some of the most challenging times, and I want to thank him for all his considerable contributions.

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