In early July, Mark DeTora, senior vice-president of Individual Insurance and Investments at Sun Life Financial announced that he will be retiring by the end of the summer. Sun Life has appointed Kevin Strain to replace him.
Sun Life brought Mr. DeTora to Canada from its U.S. operations three years ago in order to lead the individual division. During this time he spearheaded the insurer’s re-entry into the wholesale market (MGAs and independent advisors). He counts the company’s increasing growth in this market as one of the most significant accomplishments during his tenure. "It’s been a collective effort by the whole division."
The rebranding strategy announced last March that saw the company shed the Clarica name in favour of the Sun Life brand is another highlight, he says, adding that the move has been a "real success."
Looking down the road, Mr. DeTora says he sees a big opportunity for the individual division with critical illness insurance and long-term care, sales of which are starting to take off, particularly through the career advisors. The challenge will be to get the independent channel to see the role of these products in estate planning, he adds.
As for his own plans, Mr. DeTora says that after 25 years in the insurance business and 15 years with Sun Life, he will be moving back home to the United States to work on his golf game.
Mr. Strain has worked with the company for 10 years in various executive roles, most recently as vice-president, Investor Relations. His goals as the new leader of the individual division include continuing to work closely with MGAs and advisors and continuing the sales growth in this channel. In addition, he also wants to increase recruitment on the career channel side.
For the wholesale market, one of Mr. Strain’s chief goals is to ensure that Sun Life is seen as an insurer that is "easy to do business with." To do this, the individual division will make sure that underwriting is done well and efficiently and that technology interfaces are addressing advisors’ needs, he adds.