Manulife Hires MetLife’s Li to Manage Derivatives

Manulife Financial Corp., Canada’s largest insurer, hired Gary Li to oversee $34 billion in derivatives and help manage risks tied to stocks and bonds.

Li will be a managing director and report to Barry Evans, president of North American asset allocation, Toronto-based Manulife said today in a statement. Li will be based in Boston, home of the company’s John Hancock unit. He joins from MetLife Inc., the largest U.S. insurer, where he was a manager of derivatives risk management.

Insurers use derivatives to bet on market fluctuations and guard against declines in the value of holdings backing policyholder obligations. Li will advise colleagues who run equity and fixed-income portfolios, according to Manulife, whose asset-management unit oversees C$265 billion ($241 billion) as of Sept. 30.

“The ability to get exposures through derivatives is becoming more and more important,” Evans said in a phone interview from Toronto. “We just needed to bring in a player to help implement that.”

Manulife will rely on derivatives “a bit more” in its asset-allocation portfolios than in the past, Evans said.

“As we’re looking to more directly manage risk exposures across the globe, this is an easy way for us to manage it pretty much in any time zone,” he said. “This is the first choice to manage risk for clients.”

Li holds a doctorate in finance from the University of Colorado and one in statistics from Indiana University. He was previously a director of derivatives and alternative strategies for Wells Fargo & Co.

Fred Pieretti, a spokesman for New York-based MetLife, had no immediate comment.

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