June 21, 2018 / 4:12 PM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Manulife to cut 5 pct of Canadian workforce in technology push

(Adds details, background on financial services firms)

June 21 (Reuters) - Canada’s Manulife Financial Corp is cutting some 700 jobs in the country as part of a drive to automate certain functions, the insurer said on Thursday.

The cuts represent about 5 percent of Manulife’s Canadian employees and 2 percent of its global workforce, and will take place partly through voluntary exit programs.

The company will also merge its Canadian division’s headquarters into one location from the present two in order to improve efficiency.

Manulife and other financial services companies are saving costs by automating job functions with artificial intelligence and other technology, which, for instance, helps make underwriting decisions automatically.

Roy Gori, who was appointed chief executive of the Toronto-based insurer last October, has expressed his desire to modernise the business with technology, once saying the insurance industry was “still in the dark ages”.

Shares of Manulife were slightly higher at C$24.86 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Thursday afternoon. (Reporting by John Benny in Bengaluru; Editing by Sai Sachin Ravikumar)

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