BOSTON, March 28, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- James M. Oates, independent chairman of the board of the John Hancock Group of Funds, was named "Trustee of the Year" by Fund Director Intelligence, a publication of Institutional Investor, at the 21 st Annual Mutual Fund Industry Awards event held last night in New York City. The award recognizes a director who serves on a board that oversees at least $20 billion in assets for outstanding accomplishments during the year, either with his or her own board or for the mutual fund industry in general. "Jim's service as independent chairman of the John Hancock Group of Funds board of trustees has been outstanding, and we are pleased that he has received this recognition. Due to Jim's leadership, John Hancock was able to successfully combine the fund boards for retail, 401(k) and variable annuities, which provided a high level of oversight through an enhanced committee structure, all in an effort to deliver higher value for our shareholders," said Andrew G. Arnott, President of John Hancock Investments. "This was a difficult challenge, and Jim accomplished it with a constant focus on the best interests of the shareholders," Mr. Arnott added. Mr. Oates served as chairman of the board of John Hancock Variable Insurance Trust and John Hancock Funds II since 2005. In his current role as chairman of the board of the John Hancock Group of Funds, he oversees 233 funds within John Hancock Funds complex. Mr. Oates also serves as Managing Director, Wydown Group, a financial consulting firm (since 1994); Chairman and Director, Emerson Investment Management, Inc. (since 2000);; Director, Stifel Financial (since 1996); Director, Connecticut River Bancorp (since 1998); and Director, Virtus Funds, formerly Phoenix Mutual Funds, (since 1988).