McColgan Departs Fidelity After Four Months In New Post

One of the women who, it had been predicted, might take over Edward “Ned″ Johnson III’s reins at Fidelity Investments has announced her resignation, leaving behind the hovering question of who will be the chief executive’s successor.

Ellyn McColgan has been president of distribution for four months and was slated to be the frontrunner to succeed Johnson, according to the news report. She has held a variety of management positions at the company for nearly two decades.

In a statement, Fidelity did not say why McColgan departed, only that her position will be filled in the interim by newly appointed FMR Corp. President Rodger Lawson (See Fidelity Taps Lawson as President of FMR Corp.).

“Ellyn McColgan made many positive contributions to the firm during her tenure here, and I wish her the best in the next phase of her career,” said Johnson, chairman and chief executive officer, in the statement.

Former Fidelity executive David O’Leary told Reuters that McColgan’s leaving could have something to do with Johnson’s reluctance to pass the torch. “This is a classic example of the closer you are to Ned Johnson, the shorter the career,” said O’Leary, chairman of Alpha Equity Research, a North Hampton, New Hampshire-based institutional research firm. “He is the classic entrepreneur who has difficulty passing on the reins of management to a new generation.”

McColgan’s appointment came at the same time as news that Fidelity Vice Chairman and Chief Operating Officer Robert L. Reynolds would end his long Fidelity tenure. According to the Reuters report, McColgan’s departure could swing open the doors to Johnson’s daughter Abigail, 45, who some say also is a strong contender for inheriting the company her grandfather founded in 1946.