"There is excellent training available as one passes from entry-level programmer through senior systems analyst and manager."
— Patricia Neary, Director, Technical Education Center

IBM, DEC, Wang, HP, Prime
Insurance/financial services Large shop


John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company provides a broad range of financial services, including mutual funds, securities brokerage, consumer banking, real estate services, annuities, and venture capital as well as insurance. Founded in 1862, John Hancock has 20,000 employees including 6,500 in the Boston area. Boston, Massachusetts is corporate headquarters. John Hancock manages over $50 billion in assets.



John Hancock has a varied hardware and software environment. Hardware ranges from IBM mainframes to Hewlett-Packard and Prime minicomputers to Apple Macintoshes and IBM PS/2s. Programming may be in COBOL, PL/I, C, or FOCUS. Additional software used includes SQL, IMS, DB2, Paradox, DesignAid, XPEDITER, and TELON, a code generator.

More than 800 computer professionals work at John Hancock. They work in Corporate Information Services (not an applications area), Corporate Services, Group Systems, Retail Information Services, Pension Systems, and the Financial Sector Systems Division. Job titles include Entry-Level Programmer, Programmer, Senior Programmer, Programmer Analyst, Systems Analyst, Technical Programmer, Senior Systems Analyst, Systems Manager, Consultant, Director, Sector Representative, and General Director. Thirty percent of the work is new development; seventy percent is maintenance. In the first major use of artificial intelligence in the company, the staff recently installed an expert system to handle underwriting of individual life insurance policies.


Computer professionals work at the Clarendon or Berkely Building in the John Hancock Tower in downtown Boston. All have terminals or PCs on their desks. The entire company is smoke-free.

There is little or no need for travel. Overtime needs vary with the project's stage in the life cycle. Also, computer professionals may be on call for problems that develop in the evening.

John Hancock is proud of the superior service they provide customers. They feel they offer computer professionals excellent training, the opportunity to work with up-to-date technology and methods, good company benefits, including a special salary program for IS professionals, and an excellent work location.

John Hancock observes 9 or 10 holidays and employees have 2 additional personal days. Employees earn 2 weeks of vacation to start, increasing to 3 weeks after five years, and 4 weeks after 10 years. Medical insurance, disability, and dental insurance are largely paid for by the company. Life insurance is paid by the company (two times the annual salary), as is tuition reimbursement.

There is a prescription drug plan that limits the cost to employees to $3 per prescription. John Hancock has a flexible benefits plan that allows options such as HMO coverage, vision care, and supplementary life insurance. There are dental and health clinics in Hancock Tower for employees. In the event of a layoff, affected employees are offered a severance program.


John Hancock looks for candidates with a Bachelor's degree, preferably in MIS or Business. They should have good communication skills, should be able to work in a team environment, and should be creative and flexible. The average computer professional at John Hancock has 5 years of experience and a Bachelor's degree.

The company does hire entry-level computer professionals and is willing to train candidates with an aptitude in programming skills, including logic, COBOL, and JCL. A college degree is preferred.

New employees are found through recruiting (63 percent), partnerships (25 percent), ads (10 percent) and employment agencies (2 percent). John Hancock typically hires between 30 and 50 computer professionals a year.


John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company

P.O. Box 111

Boston, Massachusetts 02117

Copyright 1991. Carol L. Covin. Covin’s New England Computer Job Guide