Sun Life CEO urges Canada banks, insurers be kept separate

TORONTO Wed May 8, 2013 4:04pm EDT

TORONTO May 8 (Reuters) - Canada should maintain the strict boundaries that separate its banking and insurance sectors, Sun Life Financial Chief Executive Dean Connor told the company's annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday.

Connor, who has moved de-risk the insurer's balance sheet and push expansion in Asia over the past year, said keeping the two industries separate is key to Sun Life maintaining a strong operation in its home Canadian market.

"We think the federal government recognizes the strong policy reasons for (maintaining the separation), and has managed this well to date. We strongly encourage them to continue doing so," he said in the text of a speech being delivered at the meeting in Toronto.

Canada's big banks all sell insurance, but are precluded from doing so out of traditional bank branches to prevent them from linking loan and insurance products. The rules were put in place decades ago to maintain competition in the sector.

This means the banks must sell insurance from separate offices instead of their traditional branches.

Eager to push deeper into the insurance industry, some banks have built insurance offices right next to some of their branches, although they are not allowed to refer customers from one to the other.

Sun Life will release its first-quarter results later on Wednesday.

A couple walks along the rough surf during sunset at Oahu's North Shore, December 26, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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