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May 26, 2020

'Next 12-to-18 months are going to be incredibly challenging': Manulife CEO

Manulife CEO says next 12-18 months will be 'challenging' for the insurance industry

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The head of Canada’s largest insurance company is bracing for COVID-19 pandemic fallout that could last as long as a year and a half.

“I expect Q2 will be very challenging, very tough, with a lot of headwinds,” said Manulife Financial Corp. chief executive officer Roy Gori in an interview with BNN Bloomberg on Tuesday. “The next 12-to-18 months are going to be incredibly challenging for our industry, and quite frankly for other industries.”

Gori added, “the ultimate turning point for the pandemic will be the deployment of an at-scale vaccine,” but estimated that it is at least 12 to 18 months away as well.

For its part, Manulife, with its John Hancock Life Insurance subsidiary, announced Tuesday that it will help its employees weather the pandemic by granting an additional five personal days in 2021. Manulife also announced a company-wide holiday on June 19 in thanks for employees’ efforts during the pandemic.

In the meantime, Gori said that all major companies can do is to brace for the pandemic’s potential course and to stress-test for further turbulence.

“I think the most important thing that organizations like ours need to be focused on is anticipating how this will evolve, stress-testing our business for those different eventualities, and making sure that we’re prepared to navigate those different circumstances to deliver acceptable business outcomes,” he said.