McColgan's Departure Leaves Fidelity Succession Plans Up in the Air

August 8, 2007 ( - One of the women who, it had been predicted, might take over Edward "Ned" Johnson III's reins at Fidelity Investments has announced her resignation, leaving behind the hovering question of who will be the chief executive's successor.

Ellyn McColgan has been president of distribution for four months and was slated to be the frontrunner to succeed Johnson, according to the news report. She has held a variety of management positions at the company for nearly two decades.

Fidelity did not say in a statement why McColgan departed, only that her position will be filled in the interim by newly appointed FMR Corp. President Rodger Lawson (See Lawson Named President of FMR Corp. ).

Former Fidelity executive David O’Leary told Reuters that McColgan’s leaving could have something to do with Johnson’s reluctance to pass the torch.“This is a classic example of the closer you are to Ned Johnson, the shorter the career,” said O’Leary, chairman of Alpha Equity Research, a North Hampton, New Hampshire-based institutional research firm. “He is the classic entrepreneur who has difficulty passing on the reins of management to a new generation.”

McColgan’s appointment came at the same time as news that Fidelity Vice Chairman and Chief Operating Officer Robert L. Reynolds would end his long Fidelity tenure (See Reynolds Steps Down after 23-Year Fidelity Career ).

According to the Reuters report, McColgan’s departure could swing open the doors to Johnson’s daughter Abigail, 45, who some say also is a strong contender for inheriting the company her grandfather founded in 1946 (See Abigail Johnson Steps Down from Fidelity Board ).