Abigail Pierrepont Johnson, an influential figure in the world of finance, is a name synonymous with both wealth and leadership. Born on December 19, 1961, in Boston, Massachusetts, she is the granddaughter of Edward C. Johnson II, the visionary founder of Fidelity Investments. Her journey to becoming a billionaire businesswoman is not only impressive but also a testament to her dedication and capabilities.
Abigail Johnson took the reins of Fidelity Investments as its president and CEO in 2014, following in the footsteps of her grandfather and her father, Edward C. "Ned" Johnson III, who remained chair emeritus of the company until his passing in March 2022. Fidelity, a financial powerhouse, was founded by her grandfather, and it was under her leadership that she assumed the mantle of steering this global investment firm to new heights.
As of March 2013, the Johnson family retained a 49% stake in the privately held company, with Abigail Johnson herself holding an estimated 24.5% of the company. This significant ownership stake speaks to her enduring influence over Fidelity's operations.
In November 2016, Abigail Johnson took a historic step, becoming the chair of Fidelity Investments while retaining her roles as CEO and president. This move consolidated her control over the company, a testament to her unwavering commitment and leadership acumen. With around 45,000 employees worldwide, Fidelity is a financial powerhouse under her guidance.
Abigail Johnson's wealth is nothing short of staggering, estimated to be around $22.6 billion. This places her among the world's wealthiest women and firmly cements her status as one of the most influential figures in the financial world. She was recognised on Forbes' "The Richest Person In America's 50 Largest Cities" list in 2016, and in 2021, she held the sixth position on Forbes' "Powerful Women" list. Her influence is felt not only in her industry but also on a global scale.
In 2020, she held the title of the richest person in Massachusetts, a reflection of her enduring impact on the state's financial landscape and her remarkable journey in the world of finance.
Abigail Johnson's path to success was not preordained by her family's legacy. Growing up in Boston, Massachusetts, she had the freedom to choose her own career path. However, she was naturally drawn to her father's work, sparking her interest in finance from a young age.
Her educational journey began at the prestigious Buckingham Browne & Nichols School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She then went on to graduate from William Smith College, where she earned a bachelor's degree in art history in 1984. Following her undergraduate studies, she worked as a consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton, where she had a fateful encounter with her future husband.
In pursuit of further knowledge and career opportunities, Abigail Johnson pursued a Master of Business Administration (MBA) at Harvard Business School, further solidifying her commitment to the world of finance. Her academic achievements laid the foundation for her future leadership role at Fidelity.
Upon graduating from Harvard Business School in 1988, Abigail Johnson embarked on her career at Fidelity Investments, a company founded by her grandfather in 1946. Her father, Edward Johnson III, served as the CEO of the company at the time. Abigail started as an analyst and portfolio manager, where she honed her financial acumen and began making her mark within the firm.
In 2001, she was promoted to the position of president of Fidelity Asset Management. During this period, she notably attempted to organise a vote to remove her father as CEO, reflecting her determination and willingness to make challenging decisions when necessary. In 2005, she assumed the role of Head of Retail, Workplace, and Institutional Business.
By 2012, Abigail Johnson had ascended to the position of president, setting the stage for her ultimate promotion to CEO in 2014. Two years later, she added the role of chairman to her portfolio, marking a significant milestone in her career and the company's history.
In 2018, Abigail Johnson made another groundbreaking move, introducing cryptocurrency investment at Fidelity. This innovation allowed institutional investors to trade in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum, positioning Fidelity as a forward-thinking leader in the finance industry.
Abigail Johnson's influence extends beyond the world of finance. In 2015, she donated $2,700, the maximum amount legally allowed for presidential primary campaigns, to Republican candidate Jeb Bush, showcasing her interest in political matters.
However, her political contributions are not confined to one party. In 2016, she donated approximately $330,000 to Hillary Clinton's campaign and the Democratic National Committee, illustrating her bipartisan approach to politics.
Abigail Johnson's leadership and expertise have garnered her numerous awards and honours. She has served as a member of the Committee on Capital Markets Regulation and as a board member of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Notably, she is the first and only woman to serve on the board of the Financial Services Forum, a testament to her groundbreaking achievements in the financial sector.
For several years, Forbes has recognised Abigail Johnson among the most powerful women in the world. Her rankings on Forbes' "The World's 100 Most Powerful Women" list showcase her enduring influence and leadership in the global financial landscape. The list is as follows:
2022: Ranked 5th
2021: Ranked 6th
2020: Ranked 9th
2019: Ranked 7th
2018: Ranked 5th
2017: Ranked 7th
2016: Ranked 16th
2015: Ranked 19th
Abigail Johnson's journey from a young woman with an interest in her family's business to the CEO and chairman of Fidelity Investments is a testament to her leadership, resilience, and dedication to the financial world. Her influence continues to shape the industry, and her philanthropic and political contributions underscore her multifaceted impact on society and the world.