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Rating:O'Hanley and Burns Play Red Light, Green Light Not Rated 0.0 Email Routing List Email & Route  Print Print
Friday, June 14, 2013

O'Hanley and Burns Play Red Light, Green Light

Reported by Tommy Fernandez

Red Light? Green Light? What is happening in the industry? What is happening at Fidelity [profile]?

Attendees at the Morningstar Investment Conference were treated to a lot of the former, but not so much of the latter, during a morning general session featuring a conversation between Ron O'Hanley, president of asset management at Fidelity Investments, and Scott Burns, Morningstar's director of fund research.

The Fidelity executive did not speak at all on any of his company's business strategies or initiatives. He did not speak about the company's succession plan or product development.

O'Hanley did speak at length on the challenges of the future of retirement, in which individual investors were expected to a vastly greater level of responsibility for planning their retirement. An important challenge, he saw, was engaging the younger generation to save more.

The Fidelity executive also spoke at length on passive investing, which he said is regularly beating active management now because of the macro nature of the economy now, in which broadcast comments from a Ben Bernacke would outweigh what PMs like Peter Lynch think.

"Passive investing is here to say," he said.

Burns and O'Hanley did play a lighthearted round of "Red Light, Green Light" on a number of subjects related to the economy.

O'Hanley gave green lights to Japan's economic recovery, Europe's containment of financial crisis contagion, inflation and consumer sentiment.

He gave red lights to U.S. corporate earnings growth, unemployment and Obamacare.

Burns gamely pushed O'Hanley on a number of points, like whether the industry's estimation of retirement income needs wasn't pushing investors into fear through paralysis, and also the issue of engaging women investors and financial leaders more.

Burns noted the significance of Abby Johnson as a role model for female finance professionals and executives.

O'Hanley did note her but didn't speak at length on his colleague.

Those that see angles would ask, did he avoid speaking about her at length because she is a now rival for succession to Fidelity's throne?

A stream of attendees walked out of the auditorium during the discussion. 

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