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Rating:Fidelity Hunts for a C-Level Exec Not Rated 4.0 Email Routing List Email & Route  Print Print
Friday, April 17, 2009

Fidelity Hunts for a C-Level Exec

Reported by Neil Anderson, Managing Editor

Rodger Lawson may soon welcome another exec to the upper echelons of Fidelity. The MFWire has learned that Ned Johnson's Boston-based fund giant is searching for someone to fill a new post in its senior ranks.

An industry insider familiar with the situation described the post as a "right hand" to Lawson, designed to prep a possible successor for the Fidelity president down the line. And another insider claimed that the new post is chief operating officer and would report to Lawson, 62, who serves as president of Fidelity Investments.

Yet a spokesman for Fidelity insisted that the firm is not hunting for a COO.

"Because of Fidelity's many businesses, we are always searching for top talent," the spokesman told The MFWire. "However, there is not a search for a chief operating officer."

It's unclear how this new post would affect Abby Johnson, who serves as president of Fidelity Personal and Workplace Investing while also being Fidelity's largest shareholder. Abby Johnson is also reportedly set to be her father's successor as chairman (see MFWire, 11/9/2007).

The Fidelity spokesman told The MFWire that they "just don't disclose" such plans.

"We of course have a succession plan," the spokesman confirmed. "However, we do not discuss the details of our plan."

Industry insiders told The MFWire that they expect Abby to succeed Ned, 78, some time before the next annual Fidelity shareholder meeting in January 2010. And one insider told The MFWire that the timing of this new search "totally makes sense" to him in that light. Industry consultant Burt Greenwald agreed.

"Clearly, Lawson was not going to be a rival to the Johnson family in any way," Greenwald told The MFWire, adding that the Johnsons "may be thinking about finding a successor" for Lawson.

"Ned [Johnson] brought in Rodger [Lawson] as a transition figure," an industry insider added.

Lawson, who led Fidelity's retail operation in the 1980s, rejoined the fund giant in 2007 after serving as vice chairman at Prudential (see MFWire, 7/16/2007).

Whom might the Johnsons tap for this new, high-level role? One industry insider pointed to ex-Citi wealth management CEO Sallie Krawcheck, a former equity analyst who once led research firm Sanford C. Bernstein & Co, as an executive who might fit into such a post. Yet while Krawcheck may fit the position experience-wise, the fact that she is not a Fidelity veteran herself (unlike Lawson) might count against her. 

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