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Sun Life Financial Inc. has appointed a new head of its Asian business.

Léo Grépin will become the new president of Sun Life Asia in 2020, after the retirement of current president Claude Accum at the end of the year.

Based in Hong Kong, Mr. Grepin will be responsible for Sun Life’s Asian businesses that includes life, health and wealth-management businesses in seven Asian markets – Philippines, Hong Kong, China, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia and India – as well as the international high net-worth business.

In April, Mr. Grepin was appointed as Sun Life’s ASEAN president and became responsible for Sun Life’s businesses in the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam and Malaysia, and regional distribution and marketing.

The change in leadership comes at a time when Canadian insurers – such as Sun Life and Manulife Financial Corp. – continue to experience strong momentum in their Asian markets.

“I’m delighted to have the opportunity to lead Sun Life Asia at such a dynamic moment in our journey,” Mr. Grepin said in a statement. “ … last year our life sales growth outpaced the wider industry in all of our countries. We are well positioned to continue this growth story and help to drive prosperity and entrepreneurialism in Asia.”

Despite the trade disputes between the United States and China, Asia continues to be an attractive market for insurers. Earlier this year, Sun Life’s chief executive Dean Connor told The Globe and Mail that certain countries, in the short run, were benefiting from companies “remapping their supply chains” away from China to manufacture in Southeast Asia.

As well, he said, the region has a “comparatively youthful” population and a growing middle class which he anticipated would lead Sun Life’s Asian business to eventually account for 25 per cent of the company.

Currently, Asia represents nearly 20 per cent of Sun Life’s annual profits, contributing more to Sun Life’s bottom line than the United States.

Sun Life reported “underlying net income” for its Asian markets of $147-million in the second quarter, and refers to the segment as its “fastest growing” business unit. Over the last two years, the insurer has added almost 16,000 new advisers and 6.4 million new clients in Asia.

Sun Life first entered Asia in 1891 when it opened operations in Japan.

Mr. Accum joined Sun Life in 1983 and held a number of executive roles throughout the organization before he became president of Sun Life Financial Asia in 2017.

“Under Claude’s leadership, Sun Life Asia has gained market share and enhanced the client experience,” Mr. Connor said in a statement.

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