BOSTON, May 8, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Participants in qualified plans serviced by John Hancock Retirement Plan Services (RPS) who invested exclusively in a single John Hancock asset allocation portfolio earned better returns on average than participants who selected individual investment options to form their portfolios over the five, ten, and fifteen year periods ending December 31, 2012. 1 This is according to a commissioned study of John Hancock USA recordkeeping clients conducted by Burgess Management & Research Inc. The recent study revealed a number of outcomes, including that the average annual return earned by participants invested in John Hancock Lifestyle portfolios has exceeded the average annual return earned by those invested in non-asset allocation investment options by 106 bps (1.06%) over 15 years. Results like this help show the benefits of diversification in a single choice and why it may be important to give participants more opportunity for what the company calls "investing smart." "Saving early, saving more and investing smart is the golden rule for long term investing and asset allocation options could be a great example of investing smart for a participant," said Andrew Ross, senior vice president of Marketing and Product Development, John Hancock RPS. Better Returns, When Every Dollar Counts Investing smart and achieving better returns could be even more of a benefit for those participants whose 401(k) balance is important, such as people with a low balance and nearing or in retirement. The 5- year study found that participants with low balances whose assets were invested in Lifestyle investment options earned higher returns, with improved spreads varying by age from 184bps to 320bps (1.84% to 3.20%). The oldest participants, 60 years and older, earned the largest spread.