As enthusiastic as he is purposeful, CEO of Sun Life Philippines Benedict Sison is not one to rest on his laurels, and since the start of his tenure, Sun Life has increased its number of advisors from 13,000 to 20,000, and its sales branches from 57 to nearly 80 nationwide. “I’m a restless person,” he says.
“But this has worked to our advantage because given how well we’ve done, we still found ways to take it to greater heights.” Having been with Sun Life since 2010, Benedict has developed an understanding of what makes the company the way it is.
He describes it as having a consistent emotional stamp – designing every moment with care, optimism and relevance. “The goal is to deepen our connections with our clients, and our dream is to become a lifetime financial partner to the generations of clients that we have,” he explains.
“Optimism is about giving people a bright horizon to look forward to, helping our clients to dream big and giving them the solutions to get there. Relevance is about walking with our clients on their journey towards financial security and providing them with financial solutions that help them achieve their goals.”
He describes the company’s financial advisors and employees as its “primary heroes” and believes his team is the best in the industry. “I’m always amazed by the love and passion that our advisors have for the company,” he says.
“Every day, we face the challenge of mobilising over 20,000 advisors nationwide, but I’m able to do it because of the passion and commitment that I see.” Benedict also feels blessed to have highly engaged employees who are passionate about bringing their clients success.
“We have a workforce that possesses an engagement rate of 90%, and this is what has allowed us to execute our strategies successfully and work towards bigger goals,” he says proudly.
Optimism is about giving people a bright horizon.
Sun Life has been in the Philippines for 125 years and boasts many long-term clients. “We have clients who have been with us for as long as six generations,” Benedict smiles. The company has preserved its strong sense of commitment, optimism, integrity and excellence for more than a century.
And yet, Benedict says it has also been able to enrich its culture to make sure it responds to the changing needs of its clients. For a company as long standing as it is, the ability to evolve and stay relevant amid the changing times is certainly an asset.
A testament to this is the company’s ranking as the number one life insurance company in the Philippines, a status it has enjoyed for nine consecutive years now. “We’ve lasted this long because we have always stayed focused on our clients and their changing needs,” he adds.
“We do what’s right for the clients at all times. Today, Sun Life is recognised as the most trusted brand in the industry. My dream is to futureproof Sun Life and make it more than just a financial services company. I want it to serve a higher purpose, to contribute to nation-building by making more Filipinos financially secure, especially the younger generation. The bottom line is, we get better with age.”
Although the company draws its identity from its long history, Benedict’s perspective is that it is the leader’s role to provide a clear destination and show people how they imagine the future. “People have to feel it,” he says.
“People have to taste it. They have to know what success looks like, and they also have to know how it will hurt if the team doesn’t achieve it. This results in energy and commitment.” He understands the power of leadership and inspires his team to achieve success.
“I ensure that every member of my team is equipped and empowered to the level of their responsibility,” Benedict assures. “I let people make decisions. To keep the team motivated, I make sure I show them an inspiring vision of the future.”
Benedict believes that a good culture is a result of good leadership and that it will carry a company through difficult times.
“As this pandemic has uncovered, it’s not your strategy that will save you. It’s your culture. An organisation’s cultural values determine the organisation’s future choices. Culture will keep the business delivering on its promises, no matter how badly its strategies are disrupted. Invest in culture first, and your people will enlarge your strategies.”