Fidelity has 'real need' to recruit more women, Johnson says

Female clients prefer female advisers, the fund giant has found

Sep 27, 2017 @ 3:18 pm

By Bloomberg News

For people well-schooled in the relationship between supply and demand, here's one Fidelity Investments may not have seen coming: The demand for female financial advisers outstrips the supply.

Women customers often ask to work with female advisers, Abby Johnson, chief executive officer of the fund giant said in an interview with Carlyle Group LP's David Rubenstein. The problem, for the firm, is that they don't have enough of them.

"We have a real need in our business right now to recruit more women," Johnson, 55, said. When women come into Fidelity branches, "very often, the first thing they say when we're trying to get them paired up with a rep is, 'I'd like to work with a woman,' " she said.

There may be another reason for this: Women don't feel all that confident in their ability to manage their finances. In studying how female customers differ than men, the Boston-based firm has found women describe themselves as "beginners, even though they actually really know more than they give themselves credit for," she said on The David Rubenstein Show: Peer-to-Peer Conversations.

Asset management can be a great career for women, because it allows them to structure their time and ultimately build a personal franchise, said Johnson, who has been CEO since 2014. She took full control of the fund giant from her father, Edward "Ned" Johnson, in November 2016, started with the company in 1988 and is now the third generation to run Fidelity.

Johnson said her father never pressured her to join the family business. Ned Johnson's uncle was pushed to work in a family-owned dry goods store and hated it. Johnson said that left a strong impression on her father, who let her to find her own way into Fidelity.

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