By Jeff Sanford
Manulife has announced that Kai Sotorp will act as the new president and CEO of Manulife Asset Management. Sotorp will also take up a role as the global head of wealth management.
“I am impressed with the caliber of the firm's professionals and its strong culture of excellence,” Sotorp was quoted as saying.
In his new role Sotorp will be responsible for growing and developing the company's wealth management operations, which are making up a larger part of Manulife`s business.
Sotorp has his work cut out for him. Manulife’s annuity and segregated fund business has suffered over the past two years in the low interest rate environment. The company suffered a decline in earnings and operating revenue as a result of the low rates. Not too far in the past is a scare over unhedged annuities that saw the company rack up $27 billion in liabilities in the wake of the 2008 crash.
Manulife now hedges two-thirds of its variable annuities and all new businesses in this segment. Manulife has also been expanding its wealth management business, with “wealth sales” up 37% over the past fiscal year.
Key in the hire of Sotorp is his experience in Asia where Manulife has a deep roots. Since September of 2012, Mr. Sotorp was the CEO of UBS Global Asset Management, Asia Pacific. Based in Hong Kong, he oversaw US$120 billion in assets under management. Before that Sotorp worked at American International Group as President, AIGGIC Japan. His appointment is effective July 1, 2014.