Manulife Financial's Management Hosts UBS Global Financial Services Conference (Transcript)

Manulife Financial Corp. (MFC)

UBS Global Financial Services Conference

May 8, 2012 9:20 am EST


Robert Allen Cook – Senior Executive Vice President & GM-Asia


Peter Rozenberg – Analyst, UBS Securities Canada


Peter Rozenberg – UBS Securities Canada

Hi we’re going to start. My name is Peter Rosenberg, Canadian Financial Services Analyst at UBS. I have the pleasure of introducing Robert Cook, Senior Executive Vice President and General Manager of Asian Operations for Manulife, since 2007. Robert has been with Manulife for over 30 years holding management positions in the Company’s Canadian, International and Corporate Divisions.

Manulife is the largest insurance company in Canada and one of the largest in North America with a market capitalization of $22 billion. Notwithstanding a difficult interest rate environment, the company has made excellent strides in reengineering its products, improving pricing, improving mix, and substantially reducing risk.

Manulife’s Asian operations currently account for 34% of adjusted earnings and a significant 49% of insurance sales in 2011. With Asia a key focus, I present Bob Cook.

Robert Allen Cook

Well thank you very much, Peter. It’s a pleasure to join you all here in New York from my home base, which is in Hong Kong, which is Manulife’s regional headquarters in Asia. I am mostly going to talk to you about Manulife’s strategy in Asia, but I just want to get started with, to put it in context of our overall corporate strategy. What we are trying to do is reformulate the direction of growth that we are taking the company and we’ve been engaged in that process for the last two years to three years.

The core elements of our strategy are outlined on the left hand side of the slide, which is to develop our Asia opportunity to the fullest, to shift away from guaranteed business to non-guaranteed business in our wealth businesses throughout the world, to continue to build our core balance foundation of our franchise in Canada and in the U.S. to shift to some higher ROE and lower risk businesses.

The result of that strategic repositioning will be a company whose earnings are less volatile, whose growth rates are more sustainable and consistent and a company that has a better risk profile. We do acknowledge as we execute this strategy, that we do have some headwinds of continuing low interest environments throughout the world, as well as a great deal of uncertainty about the regulatory capital environment in which we will have to operate in the years ahead. Nonetheless, our management objective remains the same, which is to deliver $4 billion of earnings in 2015 and an ROE of 13%.

So, let me move on to talk about what I do day to day, which is run Manulife Financial Asia Limited. And I want to talk to you today a little bit about some of the context of our operations in Asia, talk to you a bit about our strategy for growth, and then conclude with a few remarks about kind of a look ahead of some of the runway for our strategy going forward.

I think this slide gives you a little insight into an overview of the Manulife’s operations in Asia. When I talk to audiences all around the world, including audiences in Asia, the two things that surprise them the most about the Manulife Financial story in Asia, are first of all, how long we’ve been there. And we’ve been in Asia for 115 years now.

It shocks people that we expanded from Canada to Asia before we expanded from Canada to United States. I think we have the longest continuing history of operations of any international life insurer in Asia. We built a very solid foundation of the experience, a solid foundation of relationships throughout the region, which will enable us to continue to drive our growth going forward.

The second thing that surprises people when I tell them Manulife Asia’s story is how big a part of Manulife we already are. There are a lot companies around the world who are pursuing international strategies in Asia and in many cases that’s a promise for the future or it’s a tiny 5% sleeve of their total operations. But as Peter said in his introduction of me and as you can see from the slide here, the Manulife Asia story is already being delivered today.

Over the last five years, we have moved our share of the Company’s worldwide insurance sales from less than a fifth to half of the Company’s worldwide insurance sales coming from Asia. On the bottom line, you see a very diversified picture there of earnings from around the world, but again a third of our bottom line is already coming from Asia. So this is not a story that is a promise for the future. This is a story that is already being delivered today.

Now as most of you know, Asia is not a homogenous market in the sense that the United States is – we operate in 11 countries in Asia and our approach has to vary market-by-market. But what this slide gives you is kind of a sense of some of the threads of strategy that weaved through our various operations in Asia.

I think the first thing to highlight is the little circle in the middle there is that our approach to Asia is to manage as a Pan-Asian portfolio. Our approach, a little different from some countries, is we’re consistent with our overall theme of diversification. We want exposure to both developed market and non-developed markets. We want exposure to Northern Asia, as well as Southeast Asia. So that is the essence of the strategy we’re trying to pursue. There are really just kind of three elements of my strategy in Asia that cross all the countries.

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