A search for a successor should be completed by July.
Keith Hartstein, president and CEO of John Hancock Funds, has announced plans to retire on Sept. 30, 2012. Hartstein has been with the firm, a subsidiary of Canada-based Manulife Financial, since September 1990, serving as the shop's chief executive and board president since July 2005. On his watch through the first quarter of 2012, assets under management in retail funds at the firm rose to roughly $38 billion from approximately $24 billion. Assets under Hartstein bottomed in March 2009, falling to roughly $16.7 billion.
Though Hartstein discussed his retirement plans internally earlier this year, the news comes as a surprise. It results in part from the particulars of the departing CEO's defined-benefit plan. Amid historically low interest rates, the plan makes now an economically advantageous time for Hartstein to exercise an early-retirement provision, though he will forgo a portion of the benefits he would receive if he were not retiring early.
Manulife plans to name Hartstein's successor by July, following the completion of an internal search that is currently underway. Hartstein is participating in the search and foresees no difficulty meeting the July deadline. He also anticipates remaining active in the asset management industry, with membership on a fund company board a potential next career move.