Manulife Financial partners with IFDS to ensure smooth and timely onboarding of acquired assets.
"You need a lot of expertise and a solid conversion process to transfer data from one system to another without losing any vital information. IFDS had the business, technical and process expertise to help ensure the success of our project."
Jeff Lapierre, Director, Manulife Financial
A leading Canadian-based global financial services group
In 2012, Manulife Financial celebrated 125 years of offering its clients sound, solutions-based investment products. With principal operations in Asia, Canada and the United States, Manulife has an extensive international network of employees, agents and partners. Offering a variety of financial protection and wealth management products and services through multiple distribution channels, Manulife serves one in five Canadians.
Onboarding of acquired portfolio proves more complex than anticipated
Manulife Financial's operations in Canada expanded with the acquisition of AIC's Canadian retail investment funds business in late 2009. Manulife used IFDS's proprietary iFast™ record-keeping platform, and wanted to convert all the AIC information to this same platform.
Bringing new accounts onto iFast involves a series of well-established processes and protocols to ensure the conversion is on time and seamless. Every conversion is unique, but it typically requires seven to eight months to move from critical planning and data mapping stages through to testing and delivery. Manulife required a more compact schedule, giving the teams five months to complete the conversion.
Another challenge was the complexity of the conversion. Manulife had a well-established and stable fund environment with clear product and commission structures. AIC’s products had different functions and features. Detailed transaction, tax, commission and distribution information needed to be maintained. Introducing the AIC products to the established iFast platform would require thorough due diligence. The conversion would uncover functionality and processing gaps along the way.
“Bringing on a new client would pose some interesting and unique challenges,” said Jeff Lapierre, Director, Manulife Financial. “But bringing on a block of business with an existing one created a whole different set of challenges.”
Fostering a transparent and collaborative project management approach
Bringing together AIC and Manulife business into the same iFast environment required quite a bit of customization. AIC’s commission schedules and processes had to be converted to the new platform, without compromising the existing contracts in place with advisors. Unanticipated complexities in how RESP information was housed also created a challenge.
"IFDS and Manulife began the conversion with a strong partnership and a framework of trust. That was essential to working through the difficulties we expected to encounter. IFDS provided timely, accurate and relevant communication on where the project stood and the issues we faced - and how to address those issues."
Jeff Lapierre, Director, Manulife Financial
Fortunately, IFDS and Manulife had success navigating previous fund conversions resulting from Manulife purchases of Elliott & Page and Maritime Life. This history of collaboration and teamwork combined with a “framework of trust” ensured the AIC conversion was ultimately successful, even with some bumps along the way.
Lapierre described the conversion as highly successful, even with the unanticipated obstacles.
“Highly successful? Yes. Was it without bumps? No. But one of the successes for me was how well IFDS stepped up to deal with issues when they arose.”
“High collaboration. Confidence in delivery. Value for money.”
More than 2.5 million accounts – active and inactive – were converted, including account histories totaling more than 45 million transactions and detailed information related to taxes, commissions and distributions. All done within shorter-than-usual timelines.
The successful result speaks to the strength of IFDS’s conversion process, including its people and the partnership approach. Lapierre noted the importance of skilled expertise when the transition encounters difficulties. “I never expect to have a smooth project. But what I want is the people with the knowledge and skill to effectively work through the issues when they come up.”
A strong IFDS conversion team was aided by a dedicated Manulife project team, including members from Information Systems, as well as an executive-level oversight committee. Each was critical to meeting the compressed timelines.
The conversion encountered several business and technical issues. IFDS’s knowledge and expertise as well as open and honest communication about any snags and roadblocks along the way led to a successful result.
AIC’s mutual fund accounts were transitioned to Manulife’s iFast environment on time and within budget.