All participating (Par) insurance investment accounts are well-diversified, but each insurer’s investment mix varies. A competitive advantage for Sun Life is our Private Fixed Income (PFI). We have one of the largest PFI teams in North America, with 55 investment professionals averaging 17 years of experience. Our strong market position often allows us first selection of the best PFI investment opportunities. It is a source of increased return in our Par portfolio and inaccessible to most investors.
What is PFI?
It’s a form of debt financing issued by private or public companies without a public credit rating. The private lending agreement describes the covenants of each investment, including interest rate, specific lending covenants, loan collateral, and borrower penalties for breaches. Sun Life’s in-house private fixed income team is responsible for sourcing new volume and management of all private fixed income holdings.
A big benefit of PFI is its exclusivity. There are fewer investors in the private space than public markets - largely due to the higher cost of entry. The powerful position of Sun Life in this market and the customizable nature of these contracts allows our PFI team to negotiate favourable issue terms, often providing an increased return when compared to similar public debt. Many have long durations and are well suited to match against insurance and pension liabilities. In return, our PFI borrowers can get financing relatively quicker than public market debt, with lower upfront costs, and greater customization.
Relative to publicly issued bonds, private fixed income typically provides favourable spreads (150bps on average), better terms, and a broader range of diversification opportunities.