Bloomberg reports that Abigail Johnson, 50, will oversee asset management, retail and institutional brokerage, retirement and benefits services, the Boston-based firm said yesterday in a statement. While she will report to her father, who remains Fidelity’s chief executive officer, the appointment makes her arguably the most powerful woman in the $12.2 trillion fund industry.
Johnson is now the clear successor to 82-year-old Ned Johnson as the company founded by her grandfather in 1946 struggles with the move by an increasing number of investors away from actively managed funds. The younger Johnson has outlasted several senior executives who were seen as candidates to lead the family-controlled firm run by her father for 35 years.
'It really does suggest she’s not simply adding more reins but about to take the reins of Fidelity itself', James Lowell, editor of Fidelity Investor, an independent newsletter in Needham, Massachusetts, said in a telephone interview.
Ned Johnson, known for avoiding the public spotlight, had kept investors, employees and the media guessing as to who would take over in the event of his retirement or death. At various times, Robert L. Reynolds, a former chief operating officer, and Ellyn McColgan, a former head of mutual-fund sales, had been considered possible leaders at the firm.
'I had the top job at Fidelity, but not the top job', Reynolds said in a 2008 interview. 'And when I asked my parents, they wouldn’t let me change my name to Johnson'.
Reynolds, now President and CEO of Boston-based Putnam Investments LLC, said Abigail Johnson’s appointment was 'well deserved and about time'.
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