Manulife announced on Thursday it will cut 700 jobs as part of a digital transformation plan.

Manulife has launched a program to digitize customer transactions and consolidate “administrative and operational back office functions.” The resulting job cuts will come from voluntary exits and natural attrition in the next 18 months, said the financial services company in a release.

The cuts will largely target customer service positions that are no longer necessary as the company automates customer transactions, said Michael Doughty, CEO at Manulife.

“Our industry, including us, are still doing too many things the old way: processing paperwork, accepting mail, answering telephone calls on information requests that clients should be able to access on their own.”

Read: Manulife and Great-West Lifeco report rise in Q1 net earnings

Manulife is hiring and retraining staff to focus on expanding its digital capabilities. The company also says it plans to “re-orient its customer service” throughout its business.

The company plans to focus personal client services on the 20% of services dealing with major life events like a death in the family, while automating the 80% of client interactions that cover submitting claims, asking questions and other routine tasks.

The company also announced this week the launch of a whole life insurance product and the use of artificial intelligence for underwriting.

The company will combine its two Kitchener-Waterloo offices into one Canadian division headquarters.

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