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TORONTO, NOV 01, 2013 -- MANULIFE OFFICE -- One of the Manulife offices on Bloor Street East. Manulife is updating their Toronto offices from the seventies style cubicles to a brighter more open concept including shared work and meeting spaces throughout. Part of the change is do reduce the amount of office space they need worldwide. Glenn Lowson photo for Globe and Mail -- Tara Perkins reporter

Glenn Lowson/The Globe and Mail

Manulife Financial Corp. is adding a chief innovation officer to its executive team, as the insurer looks to keep up with changes in technology and more demanding consumers.

Tim Ramza has been promoted to CIO to monitor disruptive trends in the industry and look for ways to set Manulife apart.

Manulife has made forging deeper connections with consumers a major priority this year, and the company has been looking to technology as one way to give people what they want. In recent months, the company has rolled out insurance products that use fitness trackers and new phone systems where voice data act as a password.

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Life and health insurers want to attract and retain policy holders in a mature market, as well as face off against banks for wealth and asset management clients. That means keeping up with the impact of new financial technologies coming to market that threaten to shake up the way people pay for goods and services, the way consumers manage their investments and the way small businesses and consumers apply for loans.

Mr. Ramza formerly held the role of senior vice-president of wealth management strategy and business development at Manulife's U.S. business John Hancock. In that role, he made connections with startup communities and worked on the company's recent acquisition of San Francisco-based software provider Guide Financial Inc., which uses behavioural finance data to help financial advisers.

"Manulife is operating in a rapidly evolving environment characterized by heightened consumer expectations and technology-driven innovation," Donald Guloien, chief executive officer of Manulife, said in a statement. "As chief innovation officer, Tim will provide thought leadership on disruptive trends and guide our corporate innovation efforts in support of our vision of helping customers with their biggest financial decisions."

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