John Hancock on Monday unveiled a new leadership development program for new and existing financial agents interested in pursuing a career in management.

The Boston-based mutual fund company said the new program includes five distinct levels of professional development, each with coursework and clear guidelines for achievement benchmarks and timelines. The program also features a more-experienced managers' school, a high-potential program and a managing partners program.

"We've created a program through which our participants will get the training and experience they'll need for management roles, in a format that will help them know - without a doubt - if they're meeting our targets for them," said Karyn O'Connor, vice president, John Hancock Financial Network.

The leadership development effort demonstrates the company's renewed commitment to the John Hancock career agency system following its merger with Manulife. The company plans to double the number of career agency producers by 2010. The company also believes the program will emerge as a competitive advantage for recruiting.

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