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Fidelity names new head of asset management

Fidelity Investments has named Charles Morrison president of asset management, succeeding Ronald O’Hanley, who is leaving the firm this month.

Morrison, 53, will oversee management of the Boston investment giant’s $1.9 trillion in mutual funds, pensions, and institutional accounts.

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He comes to the job after 27 years at Fidelity, most recently running the company’s $750 billion fixed-income division.

Morrison was chosen for the job Thursday over a number of other internal candidates. He will report to Abigail P. Johnson, the president of Fidelity Financial Services and daughter of the firm’s chairman, Edward C. “Ned” Johnson 3d.

In a statement, Abigail Johnson said, “Charlie’s diverse experience during his 27 years at Fidelity positions him well to advance our asset management business by continuing to deliver strong, consistent performance across all asset classes, sharpening our global investment focus, and offering innovative products that help deliver better outcomes for our clients.”

For Morrison, who has been running the bond and money market businesses out of Merrimack, N.H., the promotion means a return to Boston.

A Dartmouth College graduate with an MBA from Harvard Business School, he joined Fidelity in 1987 as a corporate bond analyst.

Since then, he has run the fixed-income portions of several mutual funds, including Fidelity’s Asset Manager and asset allocation portfolios. He was named president of the fixed-income group in 2011.

John Bonnanzio, editor at Fidelity Insight in Wellesley, an investment advisory newsletter, said, “I think it’s very good for Fidelity that one of their own from the research trenches has ascended to this top post.’’

Best known historically for its stock funds, Fidelity has made a push in recent years to improve its bond fund performance.

With the end of a long-running bull market in bonds, fixed-income presents a trickier challenge than it has in many years.

And asset allocation funds — designed to help investors by selecting a mix of stock and bond funds to match a future retirement date or other goal — are becoming increasingly important to Fidelity’s growth.

James Lowell, editor of Fidelity Investor, an independent investment newsletter based in Needham, said in an e-mail that this is “the first time in Fidelity history that a bond guy has ascended to such a senior management and leadership position.’’

He said the move could indicate a future focus on bonds as the baby boomers retire and need to live on the income from their investments.

Beth Healy can be reached at
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