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Fund Times

Fidelity Names New Co-Heads of Equity Division

A Fidelity veteran is paired with an outsider from the firm's institutional business.

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Fidelity has announced that Tim Cohen and Pam Holding will jointly run the equity division, potentially shaking up the unit best known for its star stock-pickers. In January, Fidelity announced that Brian Hogan would relinquish the leadership role he'd held since 2009 and move to Fidelity's personal investing unit in the wake of misconduct allegations against some portfolio managers and a number of personnel changes across the division.

Cohen is a familiar face. He most recently served as director of research, managing all global equity analysts. He previously served as a CIO in the equity division and has held other people- and money-management posts across the firm since joining as an analyst in 1996. The growth, large-cap core, capital appreciation, and mid-cap portfolio managers will report up to him via CIO Melissa Reilly, as well as five of the managing directors of research overseeing the analysts and the head of equity trading.

Holding joined Fidelity Institutional Asset Management (previously known as Pyramis) as CIO in 2013 from Putnam. Rhode Island-based FIAM is a separate entity from Boston-based Fidelity Management & Research and has an entirely different research team that's organized in a more team-oriented structure relative to FMR's central analyst bench. Her experience at FIAM could lead to changes down the line in how Fidelity's research group is organized, potentially gravitating toward more of a team-based approach versus the star manager system for which it has long been known, though it's too early to know what changes may result. Holding will oversee Tom Hense and Joe DeSantis, the CIOs responsible for the value, income, small-cap, and international strategies. She'll also manage the FIAM CIO once her replacement in that role has been named later this month and will oversee three managing directors of research.

Meanwhile, the Boston-based high-yield group, which historically reported up to Hogan via Hense, will now move to fixed-income head Nancy Prior's reporting line. A new high-yield CIO will be named later this month, as Hense focuses on his CIO duties overseeing the small-cap, value, and income-oriented equity strategies. The high-yield team will remain in Boston and will not join the investment-grade teams based in Merrimack, New Hampshire.

Having multiple leaders of the equity division isn't new for Fidelity; at times in the past there were as many as three co-heads who split the job. During Hogan's tenure, the division improved manager transitions and embraced the idea of hiring experienced sector heads to improve research efforts. However, the division has come under fire since 2017 when The Wall Street Journal reported allegations of a hostile work environment for analysts, which coincided with several departures from the firm, including that of star manager Gavin Baker of  Fidelity OTC (FOCPX).

It's difficult to discern the exact impact this leadership change will have on the analyst and manager ranks. Cohen provides some continuity as a familiar, well-respected face within the division, while Holding is somewhat of an outsider who may bring fresh insights about how to most effectively organize a large global research bench that runs the gamut in terms of experience and investment style. Perhaps even more so than in the past, personnel management will be a key focus of the new co-heads of equity. Superior investment performance is the ultimate goal, but to get there, the pair must be sure portfolio managers and analysts operate and collaborate in an engaged, respectful, and effective manner to ensure the division has an edge over competitors--as well as the firm's own low-cost index offerings.

Katie Rushkewicz Reichart does not own (actual or beneficial) shares in any of the securities mentioned above. Find out about Morningstar’s editorial policies.