Business & Tech

John Hancock names first-ever female president and CEO

Marianne Harrison
Lisa Murzin
Marianne Harrison

Top level changes continue at John Hancock Financial Services, amid recent reports that its Canadian parent company could divest parts or all of the Boston-based company.

Marianne Harrison, who now runs the Canadian operation of Hancock parent company Manulife Financial Corp., will take over as CEO and president of the Boston-based company on Oct. 1, the company said Wednesday.

It will be the first time a woman will hold that post in John Hancock’s history.

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Harrison will succeed Michael Doughty, who has been running John Hancock on an interim basis since May after a leadership shake-up that saw the sudden departure of former CEO Craig Bromley. Doughty will be swapping roles with Harrison, taking over as president and chief executive of Manulife Canada also on Oct. 1.

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Harrison has spent three decades in the financial services industry, including nearly five years leading Manulife’s US long-term care division, which has been one of the more troubled parts of the company. Harrison’s experience in long-term care operations, “provides her with unique insight into the opportunities and challenges the company faces in the US market,” Manulife said in its announcement.

John Hancock Life Insurance Co. has struggled with its long-term care policies, which help pay for home care or nursing home stays. It has increased premiums in recent years to cover the costs of benefits.

One of the largest providers of long-term care insurance with more than 1.2 million policyholders nationwide, John Hancock stopped selling new policies in December.

The announcement also comes on the heels of a July report in The Wall Street Journal that Manulife was exploring an initial public offering or spinoff of all or some parts of John Hancock, including the long-term care insurance division.

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Toronto-based Manulife acquired John Hancock in 2004 for more than $10 billion.

John Hancock is Manulife’s US brand name, and offers a variety of insurance, investment, and retirement products.

It’s unclear whether the reshuffling of leadership gives more or less weight to speculation of a spinoff, or what effect it could have on the company’s plans to build a 26-story office building on Stuart Street in the Back Bay.

At Manulife Canada, Harrison was responsible for all aspects of the diversified and balanced insurance and investment business, and led Manulife’s acquisition and integration of the former Standard life Assurance Company of Canada.

Before joining Manulife, Harrison had been chief financial officer of wealth management at TD Bank Group.

Katheleen Conti can be reached at kconti@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeKConti.