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Asset management chief leaving Fidelity

Ron O’Hanley is credited with helping to stabilize Fidelity.

Ron O’Hanley, chief of asset management at Fidelity Investments, will leave the firm at the end of February, executives told employees Wednesday.

In a letter to employees, Fidelity president Abigail Johnson credited O’Hanley, 56, with helping stabilize the organization after the financial crisis. He joined the Boston financial giant in 2010 from BNY Asset Management, where he was chief executive.

“Having achieved much of what he intended to do, Ron has decided that it’s now time for him to move on,’’ Johnson said in the letter. “The Asset Management organization is performing well and is well-positioned for continued success.’’

Johnson said the company expects to name an internal successor in the coming weeks.


The departure, after 3½ years, makes O’Hanley the latest in a long list of high-ranking Fidelity executives who left as Johnson rose up the company’s ranks and eventually took over management from her father, Edward C. “Ned” Johnson 3d.

When O’Hanley joined the firm, he and Abigail Johnson each reported directly to the senior Johnson. While Edward Johnson remains chairman and chief executive, his daughter has increasingly taken on day-to-day responsibility for the company.

In a separate letter to Fidelity employees Wednesday, O’Hanley said that when he joined the company “to help Abby lead the firm, Fidelity was in a period of significant change,’’ including the beginning of the transition from Edward Johnson to Abigail. Today, he said, “the leadership transition to Abby as president is complete.’’

The letters offered a rare bit of insight into the workings of a billionaire family that keeps a low profile while running one of the world’s largest investment operations. But they did not give a hint as to whether O’Hanley is leaving sooner than Fidelity had planned.

John Bonnanzio, editor at Fidelity Insight in Wellesley, an investment advisory newsletter, said Fidelity typically has successors in place when it announces changes at the top of the firm. But unlike some former top Fidelity executives, who may have believed they could edge out Abigail Johnson for the top job, O’Hanley appeared not to have operated under that illusion, Bonnanzio said.


“He’s a guy who well understood Ned and the culture, and that the job of president of the whole [company] was going to Abby,’’ Bonnanzio said.

Over the years, executives from Robert Pozen, who went on to be chairman of MFS Investment Management, and Robert Reynolds, now chief executive of Putnam Investments, left Fidelity when it became clear they could not rise to the top.

O’Hanley said he did not yet have plans for a new job. He said he would spend more time with his family and work with nonprofits for the immediate future.

O’Hanley called Fidelity’s mission “noble, important work’’ on behalf of customers. Often a voice pressing the importance of helping Americans save for a secure retirement, he tucked a challenge into his letter Wednesday: “Fidelity must lead the way in solving some big societal problems.’’

Beth Healy can be reached at Beth.Healy@globe.com.