Sun Life Philippines embarks on trust business

Seeing an opportunity to expand its capacities and meet the growing and evolving investment solutions sought by Filipinos, Sun Life Philippines enters into the trust business through its new stand-alone trust company, Sun Life Investment Management and Trust Corporation (“SLIMTC”).

SLIMTC leverages on the leadership of Sun Life Financial, Inc., its parent company. Michael Gerard D. Enriquez, who served as a Chief Investment Officer at Sun Life Philippines for nine years, now heads SLIMTC as its President and Chief Investment Officer.

Michael Gerard D. Enriquez, Sun Life Investment Management and Trust Corporation president and chief investment officer

Further upholdingSun Life’s goal to impart lifetime financial security to its clients, SLIMTC offers multi-strategy local and global portfolio management solutions to deliver superior risk-adjusted returns to, primarily, institutional-type investors.

“Having lifetime financial security starts with being able to provide the right products and solutions to address specific needs of clients,” Mr. Enriquez said.

Sun Life, he noted, has been quite big in retail but had not yet really penetrated the gap in the institutional space. SLIMTC is, thus, a step to enter this space.

Mr. Enriquez also remarked on some current pain points in the market. A Sun Life-commissioned survey showed that most institutions are limited to domestic assets and the products are highly commoditized. Furthermore, relationships have been dictating the client servicing rather than the focus on strong investment outcomes.

“We are missing out on a huge potential market,” he explained. “Based on a 2017 Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and NMG Consulting data, there is about P1.9 trillion in the institutional space that is still contestable. Out of this total, P1.6 trillion can only be accessed with a trust license. This market is continually growing.”

Grounded on its experience as a major player in offering financial services to retail clients and its investment team’s successful management of insurance portfolios and mutual funds, Sun Life aims to apply its expertise by helping provide relevant solutions for institutional clients through SLIMTC.

“We envision SLIMTC to be providing solutions, rather than coming up with a specific product and offering it to institutional clients, Mr. Enriquez said. “We would like to learn more about what institutions would need and for us to be able to craft bespoke investment strategies and solutions to address the specific needs of these institutions.”

“Apart from being able to leverage on our global and regional capabilities in offering a wider range of assets,” he continued,”we are also in the process of applying for a Type 3 Derivatives license with the BSP to be able to offer more solutions to address specific client portfolio needs. We have also employed Citibank to handle our middle office to ensure global best practice and offer an overall world-class service experience for our clients.”

Moreover, for Mr. Enriquez, the launch of SLIMTC and its services is timely, especially as people reassess their portfolio and risk tolerance amid the experience of the COVID-19 crisis.

“Given the divergence in the performance of financial markets last year, there has been a conscious effort to diversify portfolio exposure to offshore assets. We have also seen this trend among our retail clients. Providing exposure in several offshore assets by leveraging on our global and regional capabilities would be an advantage,” he explained.

“Also, we would like to showcase our portfolio risk and analytics capabilities to help provide clients a more systematic view of their portfolios at the same time effectively manage their risk exposures,” he added.

Mr. Enriquez hopes soon they could establish SLIMTC as a specialized investment solutions manager among retirement funds and pension funds. The new trust company also aims to present similar expert capabilities on insurance asset management to other institutions.

In line with the trust company’s medium-term plan, he added, select high net worth individuals looking for specialized investment solutions for their specific needs would also be able to receive SLIMTC’s services.

“Over the long term, we would also like to be a major player in the trust and investment management business, similar to how our insurance and asset management businesses are leaders in their respective industries,” the SLIMTC President envisioned.

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