The board of directors of Sun Life Financial today announced that Donald A. Stewart, chief executive officer, will retire on November 30, 2011. Stewart will also retire from the Sun Life board in accordance with company policy.

Dean A. Connor, chief operating officer, has been appointed president and a member of the board of directors. Connor will be president and chief executive officer effective December 1, 2011.

“I’m honoured to have been selected by our board to lead Sun Life, which has a rich and successful heritage. Don Stewart has done an excellent job running the company for the past 13 years and I expect a smooth transition this fall to my new role,” Connor said.

“Dean’s extensive experience and strategic vision will be of enormous benefit as the company continues to build on its strengths,” said Ronald W. Osborne, chairman of the board.

“I am very pleased that Dean is succeeding me,” added Stewart. “His proven leadership experience and knowledge of our diverse business operations make him the right choice to lead Sun Life going forward. I have great confidence in his abilities.”

A native of Scotland, Stewart joined Sun Life in London, England in 1969 and immigrated to Montreal in 1972.

In 1974, Stewart left the company to work as a consultant in Toronto. He returned in 1980 to lead the Canadian Group Retirement Services Division. From 1986 to 1998 he held successive leadership positions in mutual funds, information technology, trust services, actuarial and worldwide operations. In 1998 he was appointed chief executive officer.

Stewart is a director of the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association, the American Council of Life Insurers and international aluminum products company Novelis Inc. He is a member of the board of The Geneva Association, an international insurance think tank and research institution. In 2009, Stewart was appointed chairman of Canada’s National Task Force on Financial Literacy.

Stewart holds a degree in natural philosophy from the University of Glasgow. He became a fellow of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries in 1972, and attended the Advanced Management Program of the Harvard Business School in 1991.

His successor, Connor, joined Sun Life in 2006 as executive vice-president with responsibility for the company’s United Kingdom and Reinsurance operations, strategic international activities and corporate functions. In 2008, he assumed leadership of Sun Life’s Canadian operations.

In 2010, he was appointed chief operating officer with responsibility for Sun Life’s Canadian and United Kingdom operations; MFS, its Boston-based global asset management firm; marketing; human resources; IT and other shared business services.

Connor has an extensive background in the group pension and benefits business. He joined Sun Life following 28 years at Mercer Human Resource Consulting, last serving as president for the Americas, encompassing its business operations in the United States, Latin America and Canada.

Connor is a fellow of the Society of Actuaries and the Canadian Institute of Actuaries and holds an Honours Business Administration (HBA) from the Richard Ivey School of Business.

New board chairman

James H. Sutcliffe has been appointed as chairman of the board or directors, effective December 1, 2011. Sutcliffe joined the board in 2009 following a distinguished career in international financial services. He is currently chairman of the company’s risk review committee.

Osborne will step down as chairman effective November 30, 2011 and retire as a director at the 2012 annual meeting. He has served in various capacities since joining the board in 1989 and has been chairman since 2005.