TORONTO, Feb. 8, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Manulife Mutual Funds' net assets under management reached a record $20.7 billion at the close of 2012, representing an 18 percent increase from year-end 2011 to year-end 2012. The firm now places seventh in rankings released by the Investment Funds Institute of Canada (IFIC), having moved up three spots during 2012. "Surpassing the $20 billion mark reflects our increased breadth of high-quality investment funds, our expanded distribution capabilities and our effective branding of Manulife Mutual Funds as a top tier firm in the industry," said Paul Lorentz, Executive Vice President, Investment and Insurance Solutions. "It was only relatively recently, in March of 2010, that we surpassed $15 billion in assets under management. Now, aided by record-breaking sales in years 2011 and 2012, we have arrived at a new milestone." A major increase in business with full-service brokers at major bank-owned brokerage firms was a significant factor in asset growth in 2012 for Manulife Mutual Funds, with 43 percent of sales through the fourth quarter of 2012 generated through the bank channel. Also, the firm has increased its presence on major-dealer recommended lists, up to 31 at the end of the fourth quarter of 2012 from seven in 2009. And during the year Manulife Mutual Funds celebrated the persistence of its top performers, such as the Manulife Monthly High Income Fund, which marked its 15 th year of consistent, strong investment performance under portfolio manager Alan Wicks. New growth opportunities are in the works for 2013. A series of new funds focused on Asia and launched in 2011 – Manulife Asia Total Return Bond Fund, Manulife Asia Equity Class, and Manulife Emerging Markets Debt Fund – remain a priority, as do U.S.-focused funds such as the recently launched Manulife Strategic Balanced Yield Fund, Manulife U.S. All Cap Equity Fund and Manulife U.S. Large Cap Equity Fund. Manulife Mutual Funds will continue to emphasize its strength in fixed income with funds such as Manulife Floating Rate Income Fund. And the firm also will continue to build on the launch in December of 2012 of Manulife Private Investment Pools, a new product designed for affluent investors that offers 15 different investment pools and utilizes a tax-efficient structure, along with other advantages. "We are enthusiastic about the future of our investment business as we have a great deal of room to significantly enhance our market share," said Mr. Lorentz. "This $20 billion milestone will not be our last, and I am looking forward to continuing to work with our various teams, along with our advisors, to build on this tremendous success." About Manulife Mutual Funds Manulife Mutual Funds, a division of Manulife Asset Management Limited, builds on 125 years of Manulife Financial's wealth and investment management expertise in managing assets for Canadian investors, through a diverse portfolio of forward-thinking mutual fund products. Our experienced Portfolio Managers offer access to markets in Canada, the United States and around the world, in a range of investment styles to help meet individual needs. Manulife Mutual Funds is part of Manulife Investments, which offers personal wealth management products and services, such as mutual funds, segregated fund contracts, annuities and guaranteed interest contracts. For more information, please visit manulifemutualfunds.ca. About Manulife Financial Manulife Financial is a leading Canada-based financial services group with principal operations in Asia, Canada and the United States. Clients look to Manulife for strong, reliable, trustworthy and forward-thinking solutions for their most significant financial decisions. Our international network of employees, agents and distribution partners offers financial protection and wealth management products and services to millions of clients. We also provide asset management services to institutional customers. Funds under management by Manulife Financial and its subsidiaries were C$532 billion ( US$535 billion) as at December 31, 2012. The Company operates as Manulife Financial in Canada and Asia and primarily as John Hancock in the United States. Manulife Financial Corporation trades as 'MFC' on the TSX, NYSE and PSE, and under '945' on the SEHK. Manulife Financial can be found on the Internet at manulife.com.