Fidelity Names Abigail Johnson President

Abigail P. Johnson, the granddaughter of Fidelity’s founder, has been tasked with a broader role in running more businesses of the financial services firm.

Johnson will oversee a broad organization comprising the company’s financial services businesses—asset management, retail and institutional brokerage, retirement and benefits services, as well as corporate operations and function support groups. Johnson will continue to report to her father, Edward C. Johnson 3d, Fidelity chairman and chief executive, according to news reports.

For years industry speculation has focused on whether Johnson is in line to take over from her father. Anne Crowley, a spokeswoman at Fidelity Management and Research, emphasizes that Edward Johnson remains chairman and CEO of the entire firm and continues to be actively involved in running the company. “He has no plans at this time to step aside from those roles,” Crowley told PLANADVISER. “[Abby] has never participated in speculation about her future roles since her focus is on her current role at any given time.” Fidelity has a succession plan, Crowley said, without giving specifics. “But we do have a plan that ensures the continued smooth and efficient operation of the firm should a transition be warranted,” she said.

“As our business continues to evolve, we want to bring all of our resources together to position our firm strategically to optimize our competitive capabilities to meet the growing and evolving needs of our mutual fund shareholders, clients and customers,” Edward Johnson said.

Johnson most recently was president of the personal, workplace and institutional services organization, which includes the retail and institutional brokerage divisions, as well as retirement and benefits services. In that role, she partnered with Ronald P. O’Hanley, president of asset management and corporate services, to align their organizations to respond to changes in the financial services industry.

O’Hanley will continue to oversee the asset management and corporate services, and will report to the younger Johnson. The leaders of Fidelity’s brokerage and mutual fund distribution businesses will continue to report to Johnson in her new role.

Johnson joined Fidelity as an analyst in 1988. In the 1990s, she ran a number of Fidelity equity funds, becoming president of the fund division in 2001. Four years later, Johnson took charge of Fidelity’s benefits and retirement plans unit. In 2010 she was promoted to head all distribution channels during a restructuring. (See “BNY Asset Management Chief Jumps to Fidelity.”)

Johnson also is vice chairman and director of FMR LLC, the holding company for the businesses of Fidelity Investments, and chairman of the board of trustees for the fixed-income/asset allocation funds, and a member of the FMR board of directors.

Johnson holds a bachelor’s degree in art history from Hobart and William Smith Colleges, and a master’s in business administration from Harvard Business School.

“During her 24-year career at Fidelity, Abby has gained a breadth of experience overseeing many of the divisions that comprise Financial Services,” Edward Johnson said. “She has demonstrated an ability to drive change and innovation in business practices on behalf of our customers. She is well suited for this important position.”