Most Powerful Women in Finance: No. 2, Fidelity's Abigail Johnson
Chairman and CEO, Fidelity Investments
Amid continuing predictions about the demise of conventional money management, the person in charge of the industry’s best-known brand is making adjustments to keep the business thriving and prove the doomsayers wrong.
She also is thinking about the future, advocating for the development of blockchain technology and experimenting with digital currency.
Abigail Johnson, who has been Fidelity’s CEO since 2014, added the chairman title in November 2016, succeeding her father, Edward “Ned” Johnson, and stepping up to full control at the Boston-based company. Fidelity is the world’s fourth-largest asset manager, with about $6 trillion in assets under administration.
Actively managed mutual funds like Fidelity’s have fallen out of favor, while lower-cost, passively managed funds have become more popular. The company laid off hundreds of employees in July even after more than 1,500 others took voluntary buyouts — part of what Johnson has called “a new multiyear program to drive efficiency.”
Even so, Fidelity has size in its favor. It holds a quarter of the market for corporate 401(k) plans and deals with about 20% of all investors in America in some way.
Though Johnson, 55, continues to keep a characteristically low profile, she attracted attention in May at the Consensus 2017 conference in New York, urging software developers, entrepreneurs and academics to work together to solve problems that are preventing the broader adoption of blockchain technology.
“You are the community who will drive the future of this technology. I challenge you to start collaborating together — and I don’t just mean with people that think like you,” she said.
Making good on the technological leap, Fidelity in August started enabling customers to view their cryptocurrency holdings on its website.