Most Powerful Women in Finance: Abigail Johnson, Fidelity Investments
Chairman and CEO
Under Abigail Johnson's leadership, Fidelity's assets under management climbed 26% in 2019 to a record $3.2 trillion, which helped boost revenue to $20.9 billion and operating income to $6.9 billion. All that after the company eliminated commissions for online trades.
In keeping with Johnson's commitment to offer an increasingly seamless digital experience to customers, Fidelity plans to spend more than $3 billion on technology this year, including making substantial investments in bleeding-edge areas such as quantum computing and cryptocurrency trading.
Still, even with the large technology spend, Johnson said she believes that person-to-person contact needs to remain the cornerstone of Fidelity's customer service strategy. This notion was reconfirmed when the COVID-19 virus started to shake the markets.
"Most people still want to talk with other people in times of economic uncertainty," she said in a podcast earlier this year.
Under the strain of the pandemic, Fidelity was forced to scale up its customer service capabilities at lightning speed in order to handle an unprecedented level of phone calls from its personal investing and workplace benefits customers. Prompted in part by the circumstances created by COVID-19, Fidelity will increase its hiring of financial consultants, software engineers and licensed phone representatives across the United States over the coming year.
Johnson has repeatedly stressed her commitment to getting more women involved in investing. By commissioning teams to study how the packaging of financial services and products are perceived along gender lines, Fidelity has started to make headway in expanding investment interest and financial literacy among women.
"Women need to know that they can be successful investors, and many of them are — we just need more of them out there," she said.