Lawson Bows Out as Fidelity Number Two

After three years as second in command at Fidelity Investments, President Rodger Lawson has announced he will step down from the post at the end of March.
The Boston Globe reported the Boston-based investment company did not immediately name a successor to the 63-year-old Lawson, indicating CEO Edward C. “Ned” Johnson III and Fidelity’s executive committee will take over Lawson’s duties (see “Fidelity Taps Lawson as President of FMR Corp.”).

While indicating it had a succession plan in place, Fidelity officials would not discuss it or talk about how such a plan might affect Johnson’s daughter Abigail Johnson, who has long been the subject of industry chatter about whether and when she might take over the top spot, the Globe reported (see “Abigail Johnson Named to Chair Fidelity Fund Board”).

The newspaper pointed out that Abigail Johnson is already vice chairman, and heads the company’s largest unit, which manages retirement plans and runs its retail investment business. She has run other major units, including its flagship investment management arm.

In his interview with the Globe, Lawson said he doubted Fidelity would reach out for someone outside the company and, in a more likely scenario, would promote from within.

Lawson told the newspaper he no longer wants to work the marathon hours the job demands and felt Fidelity’s performance had improved to the point where he was comfortable stepping down. “It’s been a pretty brutal three years,” he said of the time demands, but Fidelity is now “a different company.”

Lawson said the company, which has 37,000 employees worldwide and 9,500 in Massachusetts, could continue to cut jobs through attrition, but has no significant plans to relocate or lay off more employees, the Globe reported.