Sun Life Financial

Sun Life Cuts Annual Tax Processing Costs in Half


Chartered in 1865, Sun Life Financial is a leading international financial services organization providing a diverse range of protection and wealth accumulation products and services to individuals and corporate customers. Sun Life’s group of companies serves over 20 million customers in 22 countries. Sun Life Financial and its partners today have operations in key markets worldwide, including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, India, China and Bermuda.

Key Benefits

  • Reduction in average time spent on form correction from over a week to three hours
  • 80 percent reduction in B-Notices and P-Notices for over 360,000 forms processed
  • Reduced annual tax processing costs by 42 percent by moving to Managed Services

“Sovos Compliance makes an effort in listening to their clients and taking in suggestions in improving their product. I would absolutely recommend Sovos Compliance to others.” – Bruce Mollar, Tax Director

Business Challenge

Internal resources strained to manage outdated infrasturcture

In 2002, Sun Life was using a home grown Visual Basic solution in conjunction with a third party information system to perform their tax information reporting. Sun Life was processing over 360,000 tax forms annually with transactions in every state plus additional localities. Bruce Mollar, Sun Life’s Tax Director, said that the processes were rife with inefficiency and couldn’t handle all of the forms that they were filing.

“We found out that the home grown Visual basic solution we had was no longer supported by IT in-house, and the Checkfree system created a lot of issues with process inefficiency” – Bruce Mollar, Tax Director, Sun Life

Sun Life had to devote days of staff time to cleaning and loading the data from their source systems in order produce compliant output. But the lack of efficiency and supported forms wasn’t the only problem. Sun Life was using a customer service module to track customer requests and questions, and it was working far from optimally. “[The system] wasn’t reading [certain typed] characters, so requests that were getting submitted for new tax forms weren’t ever showing up in the work queue,” Mollar said. Because the operating system was not working correctly, people requesting a new tax form did not receive one, as nobody within the company had the knowledge to fix the system.

With a growing form count and increasing filing needs, Sun Life needed a system that was able to:

  • Quickly and efficiently import hundreds of thousands of transactions from multiple source systems and allow for compliant output
  • Handle all of the forms they were filing including 1042-S and Puerto Rico
  • Present tax detail in a clean and coherent interface for customer service queries and handle data maintenance

The Sovos Compliance Solution

Mollar and his staff began the search for a replacement to their current system, but most solutions fell short of meeting all their needs. “Thomson didn’t have all the forms we needed and Checkfree [was] also missing a couple of the forms. At the time [the interfaces] seemed like they were archaic” Bruce Mollar, Tax Director, Sun Life

Mollar’s team looked at Sovos Compliance and had then decided to look at Sovos Compliance’s Taxport solution which was able to support the needed form types and high volume filing. Sun Life partnered with Sovos Compliance and the process efficiencies were immediately apparent.

“Having he ability to automate the manual record loading probably saved us about 30 to 40 manual hours in January,” Mollar said.

Shortly after migrating to Sovos Compliance’s solution, Mollar brought up Sun Life’s customer service needs as their homegrown solution was unable to handle the increased volume. They needed a customer service solution that:

  • Has users submit a request and show up as a work question in the work queue in the Taxport system
  • Fixes the form
  • Communicates with the person who made the request

Sovos Compliance provided Sun Life with Taxport’s Customer Service Workflow module. Mollar said, “The instant someone would type in a request, it would show up in the work queue.” “Because the tax form itself was in the system, you could go in and make the change, and changes to the tax forms were instantaneous. It made the whole workflow a lot more efficient.” With the new module in place, Sun Life was able to reduce the average time spent on a form correction from over a week to under 24 hours.

In 2006, Sun Life decided to leverage Sovos Compliance’s full Managed Services and TIN compliance solutions for their filing needs. Sun Life’s IT hours that went into installing updates were becoming unmanageable, and they were going to be charged more to run their internal servers.

Once the organization moved to full Managed Services, the problems disappeared. “We just could never get through an install without running into these problems that would take two to three months to resolve,” Mollar said. “[With Managed Services] all the IT time that went into solving these problems went away.” Thanks to TIN compliance services, the organization has seen an 80 percent reduction in their number of B and P notices. By migrating to full managed services, Sun Life has reduced their annual tax processing costs 42 percent over performing their operations in-house. In the end, however, Mollar said, “The best part of working with Sovos Compliance, early on, was that a lot of attention was paid to us in feedback, and incorporating client feedback into subsequent releases and system enhancements upgrades.”