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John Hancock Global Absolute Return Strategies Fund (JHAAX) crosses USD1bn mark nine months after launch


The John Hancock Global Absolute Return Strategies Fund (JHAAX) has crossed the USD1 billion in assets under management mark in the nine month period since the inception of Class A shares in December of 2011, John Hancock Funds announced. 

Crossing this milestone in such a relatively short period of time makes the John Hancock Global Absolute Return Strategies Fund (GARS) one of the fastest-growing funds ever for John Hancock.  

"Launching the John Hancock GARS Fund last December realized a key part of our strategy of providing investors and financial advisors exclusive access to an array of alternative investing strategies managed by premier, institutional-caliber investment management firms," says Andrew G Arnott, President & Chief Executive Officer, John Hancock Funds. 

"In the case of John Hancock’s GARS fund, that meant choosing portfolio manager and sub-adviser Standard Life Investments of Scotland, one of the world’s leading managers of global absolute return strategies with more than $27 billion in assets under management in that strategy. Having offered this strategy in Europe for more than nine years, Standard Life Investments is one of the few absolute return managers with real world experience managing through various market cycles," Arnott adds.

The John Hancock Global Absolute Return Strategies Fund seeks to provide consistent, positive investment returns regardless of market conditions. The Fund has a broad investment mandate that permits it to use an extensive range of investment strategies and to invest in a wide spectrum of equity and fixed-income securities, as well as derivative instruments, in pursuing its investment objective.

Keith Skeoch, Chief Executive Officer of Standard Life Investments, says:  "We are pleased to have the opportunity to partner with John Hancock Funds in making this strategy available to US investors. After working with John Hancock intensively for more than a year to make the GARS mutual fund a reality, we are gratified that it has shown such strength in such a short period of time.  Given the continued stresses in the global economy and volatility in the markets, the GARS strategy we believe is an effective way to deliver equity-like returns with fixed income-like volatility for global clients."

"In addition, working with John Hancock Funds has allowed us to widen our distribution footprint in North America, accessing the largest asset management market in the world," Skeoch says.

The John Hancock Global Absolute Return Strategies Fund is offered as a stand-alone member of the John Hancock family of retail mutual funds, and is also a component of the John Hancock Alternative Asset Allocation Fund (JAAAX), as well as several of the John Hancock Lifestyle Funds.

Contributing significantly to the rapid asset growth of GARS has been and continues to be its addition to model portfolios or recommended lists at many of the top national investment firms, says Arnott, while retail demand has steadily accelerated. "We are pleased that the Fund has performed well and been well-received," he says. 

"Our decision to launch the Fund stemmed from our conversations with advisers who needed to offer investors ways to incorporate truly uncorrelated liquid alternatives into their portfolios. Following an extensive research and due diligence process by John Hancock Investment Management Services, our in-house group designed to identify best in class managers, we selected Standard Life Investments after numerous discussions and multiple in-person visits to their home office. What impressed us the most was the size and experience of the 27-person team that supports the strategy and how they work together to execute the approach.  Also critical is their focus on risk management.  That the Fund has attracted more than USD1 billion in assets thus far we see as a validation of our process and strategy by our financial advisor partners and their firms," Arnott says.

Absolute return funds such as John Hancock GARS employ certain techniques which are intended to reduce risk and volatility in the portfolio and provide protection against a decline in the Fund’s assets.  Absolute return funds are not designed to outperform stocks and bonds in strong markets; thus they are not benchmarked against the S&P 500.

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