John Hancock Funds

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Flag of the United States.svg.png This article contains details specific to United States (US) investors.

John Hancock Variable Insurance Trust ("JHVIT"), formerly John Hancock Trust, is an open-end management investment company, commonly known as a mutual fund. Shares of JHVIT are not offered directly to the public but are sold only to insurance companies and their separate accounts as the underlying investment medium for variable annuity and variable life insurance contracts (“variable contracts”) which are administered as 401(k) and 403(b) retirement plans.[1]

This page contains information about funds that are commonly contained in John Hancock retirement plans, with an emphasis on funds that are most suitable to Boglehead-style investors.

The information below was last revised in October, 2017. Writers have striven for accuracy, but investors should verify information before taking action.

Similar Vanguard funds

Based on observation of portfolios posted in the Investing - Help With Personal Investing forum, most John Hancock retirement plans contain one or more index funds, although some plans contain none. Here are several of the most commonly included index funds that are most useful for Boglehead-style investing, the most similar Vanguard funds, and the default expense ratios of the John Hancock funds. The actual fund lineup and expense ratios for your own 401(k) plan may vary -- check your own plan.

Vanguard Fund Similar John Hancock Fund JH Expense Ratio* Notes
US Stocks
Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund (VTSAX) Total Stock Market Index Trust (JETSX) 0.58% John Hancock tracks the Wilshire 5000 Total Market Index. Vanguard tracks the CRSP US Total Market Index.
Vanguard 500 Index Fund (VFIAX) John Hancock 500 Index Trust (JEINX) 0.54% Both funds track the S&P 500 index.
Vanguard Mid Cap Index Fund (VIMAX) John Hancock Mid Cap Index Trust (JECIX) 0.56% John Hancock tracks the S&P 400 Mid Cap Index. Vanguard tracks the CRSP US Mid Cap Index.
Vanguard Small Cap Index Fund (VSMAX) John Hancock Small Cap Index Trust (JESIX) 0.58% John Hancock tracks the Russell 2000 Index. Vanguard tracks the CRSP US Small Cap Index.
International Stocks
Vanguard Total International Stock Index (VTIAX) John Hancock International Equity Index Trust (JEIEX/JIEQX) 0.69% John Hancock tracks MSCI ACWI Ex-US - no small caps. Vanguard tracks MSCI ACWI ex US Investable Market Indices (IMI) Index, includes small caps[2].
Vanguard Total Bond Market Index Fund (VBTLX) John Hancock Total Bond Market Trust (JEBNX/JTBMX) 0.58% John Hancock tracks the Barclays Capital Aggregate Bond Index. Vanguard tracks the Barclays Capital U.S. Aggregate Float Adjusted Index.

Tips for Boglehead-style investing

If you have a John Hancock retirement plan as well as one or more other accounts (such as an IRA), then you may want to select specific John Hancock funds to fill an asset class in your overall asset allocation. Below are some suggestions.

US equities

  • If your plan contains only the 500 Index Trust, and you can use this fund, then it is recommended you complement it with a suitable small cap index fund to hold the complete Total US Stock Market as described in approximating total stock market.
  • If your plan contains both the Total Stock Market Index Trust and the 500 Index Trust funds, it is often easier and preferable to use the Total Stock Market Index fund. The standard expense ratio for the Total Stock Market fund is only 0.04% higher than the 500 Index Fund, so there is little advantage to holding the 500 Index Fund when you also have the Total Stock Market Index Fund unless the 500 Index Fund fits a specific need in your portfolio. The John Hancock Total Stock Market Index Trust's benchmark is very similar to that of Vanguard's Total Stock Market Index Fund, so the John Hancock fund is a suitable stand-in for the Vanguard fund if that is what you are seeking.
  • If your plan does not have the Total Stock Market Index Trust, but it does have the 500 Index Trust and the Mid Cap Index Trust and Small Cap Index Trust, then you can replicate the total US stock market with those three funds as described in approximating total stock market.

International equities

  • The International Equity Index is similar to the Vanguard Total International Stock Index, except the John Hancock fund excludes small caps. Therefore, if you must hold this fund in a retirement plan and you want to hold a complementary fund to replicate Vanguard's Total International Stock Market Index fund, then you should add a small-cap international fund like Vanguard FTSE All-World ex-US Small-Cap Index Fund or similar (see linked page for recommended ratios to hold the two funds).

Three-fund portfolio

If you want to create a three-fund portfolio solely from John Hancock funds, then choose the following three funds in your desired asset allocation ratios:

  • Total Stock Market Index Trust (see variations in US equities above)
  • Total International Equity Index Trust
  • Total Bond Market Trust

If your John Hancock plan is missing the Total Bond Market Trust, then choose the closest substitute. Also, as described above, be aware that the Total International Equity Index Trust does not include small caps, so if your plan has a suitable small cap international fund, you might want to select it (see note above). Assuming your plan uses the default expense ratios, then your blended expense ratio for these holdings will be around 0.57% depending on your exact holdings.

Target retirement and lifestyle funds

Similar to most mutual fund families, John Hancock includes target retirement and lifestyle funds. These are funds of funds with default expense ratios that are around 1.0% or more depending on the specific plan. Boglehead-style investors might prefer creating a three-fund portfolio rather than holding these funds, in order to reduce expenses.


  1. "John Hancock Variable Insurance Trust Prospectus" (pdf). May 17, 2017. Retrieved October 26, 2017.
  2. Vanguard Total International Stock Index Fund Investor Shares (VGTSX) at

External links