Sun Life Financial reported on Feb. 13 net income of $580 million for Q4 2018. This compares to $207 million for the same quarter a year earlier. The insurer posted $2.5 billion in net income for all of 2018, up from $2.15 billion for 2017.

Underlying net income was $718 million in Q4 2018, compared to $641 in Q4 2017. For the year 2018, underlying net income stood at $2.9 billion, compared to $2.5 billion for 2017.

Reported return on equity for Q4 2018 was 10.9% compared to 4.1% for the same quarter of 2017. For the full year 2018, ROE stood at 12.1% compared to 10.7% for 2017.

Financial strength

With respect to financial strength, Sun Life Financial Inc.’s LICAT ratio was 144% at year-end, while Sun Life Assurance’s LICAT ratio was 131%.

Dean Connor, President & CEO, Sun Life Financial, says the “fourth quarter capped off a year of strong performance for Sun Life.” Among the company’s achievements, he highlighted SLF Canada’s launch of Lumino Health. This digital health network offers ratings of health providers, price comparisons and health tips and “is already generating impressive usage statistics,” says Connor. He added, “As part of our focus on innovation, in Asia we completed our investment in the first virtual insurer approved under the Fast Track process in Hong Kong, Bowtie Life Insurance Company Limited."

"During the quarter, we also announced our plan to merge Bentall Kennedy, our North American real estate and property management firm, with GreenOak Real Estate, and we will acquire a majority stake in the combined entity,” Connor noted.

Canadian market

SLF Canada's reported Q4 2018 net income was $96 million, down 44% compared to the same period in 2017. The company says this decline reflected equity market impacts.

Insurance sales were down 4% in the fourth quarter of 2018 due to lower individual insurance sales compared to the same quarter in 2017, says Sun Life. This was partially offset by slightly higher group benefits sales. Wealth sales were up 53% compared to the same quarter in 2017 mainly due to large case defined benefit solutions sales in Group Retirement Services in 2018, while individual wealth sales were consistent with the prior year, says the company.