NU Online News Service, Jan. 2, 10:13 a.m. – John Hancock Financial Services Inc., Boston, has hired James Benson to be a corporate senior executive vice president, a member of its long-term strategic policy committee and the president of its John Hancock Sales and Marketing unit.

The company has also given more responsibilities to Michael Bell, who already holds the title of senior executive vice president and is already a member of the policy committee.

Hancock, which reported disappointing results for 2002, says it made the moves to strengthen its operations.

Benson, who has been president of the individual business unit at MetLife Inc., New York, and previously was president of MetLife’s Boston-based New England Financial unit, will take charge of all Hancock insurance and annuity sales, marketing and distribution operations, including management of marketing companies it owns, such as Signator Inc., and building relationships with independent marketing organizations. Benson will also oversee insurance and annuity product design.

Bell, who has been running Hancock’s retail operations, will keep that job, but he will also be in charge of overseeing other insurance, annuity and mutual fund businesses, such as its long-term care insurance operations and its Canadian, Chinese and Southeast Asian operations, Hancock says.