James A. Shepherdson, former head of John Hancock Financial Services' retirement services, was tapped as chairman, president and CEO of the firm's mutual fund unit John Hancock Funds, the company announced Thursday.

Shepherdson, who has been at Hancock since 2003, previously served as a co-CEO at MetLife Investors Group, where he was responsible for the company's annuity and life insurance units. In his new role, he will also serve as the trustee of the funds. He replaces Maureen Ford Goldfarb, who had been CEO since January 2000. Upon the completion of Hancock's merger with Manulife Financial Corp., which is now finalized, Goldfarb had said she would step down.

"Maureen has provided John Hancock Funds with steady guidance through several years of extremely turbulent market and industry conditions with unwavering integrity," Shepherdson said. The new fund head will report to John Hancock Senior Executive Vice President John D. DesPrez III.

As of March 31, Hancock Funds had $30.2 billion in assets under management.

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