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Family-run Fidelity Investments signals succession plan with promotion

The long-running guessing game over who will succeed Edward “Ned” Johnson III in family-run Fidelity Investments appears to be over.
Abigail Johnson has been promoted to president of Fidelity Financial Services

The long-running guessing game over who will succeed Edward “Ned” Johnson III in family-run Fidelity Investments appears to be over. 

On 28 August, his daughter, Abigail Johnson, was promoted to president of Fidelity Financial Services, a move, the US mutual fund manager said in a statement, consolidates “all of the company’s core businesses under her leadership”.

The appointment has been seen as a indication that company will remain under the control of the Johnsons – and that 50-year-old Abigail has proven her readiness to take over the family business.

But a spokeswoman for the financial services firm refused to confirm this. 

Instead, she told CampdenFB that 82-year-old Ned will remain chairman and chief executive of the group, continuing to be “actively involved” in running the company. She added: “He has no plans to step down at this time.”

However, she also said the company has a succession plan in place. “We do have a plan that ensures the continued smooth and efficient operation of the firm should a transition be warranted,” the spokeswoman told CampdenFB.

She added: “Abby has never participated in speculation about her future roles since her focus is on her current role at any given time.”

In a statement earlier this week, Fidelity Investments said Abigail would oversee the company’s core businesses – asset management, retail and institutional brokerage, and retirement and benefits services. 

“During her 24-year career at Fidelity, Abby has gained a breadth of experience, overseeing many of the divisions that comprise financial services,” Ned said in the statement. “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.”

Over the years, Ned reportedly has considered non-family members to head the firm. In 2010, he split control of Fidelity into two units, appointing his daughter to lead all client-focused businesses and Ronald O’Hanley as head of asset management. Fidelity said O’Hanley will continue to oversee asset management and will report to Abigail.

Fidelity Investments has over $1.4 trillion (€1.1 billion) in mutual fund assets and total assets under administration of $3.6 trillion, making it the second largest mutual fund company in the US. It was founded in 1946 by Ned's father, Edward Johnson II.

In 2011, it had revenues of $12.8 billion and an operating income of $3.3 billion.

Picture © Reuters

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