Ronald O'Hanley has emerged as an outspoken force inside Fidelity Investments, giving a speech on Thursday that touched on sex, drugs and revolution as he warned that young Americans face getting a raw deal from the U.S. retirement system.
Top executives at the Boston-based mutual fund giant are known for being conservative and scripted in their public appearances. But since O'Hanley joined Fidelity in 2010 as the president of asset management and corporate services, he has demonstrated a more free-wheeling approach in his public comments.
The United States is facing a "real crisis in intergenerational inequity," O'Hanley said in explaining how Social Security's cash deficits continue to grow as retirees outnumber the people entering the workplace.
The crucial question that faces O'Hanley's college-age son and his friends, he said, is what kind of retirement system they will have when they grow old.
The United States is at the tipping point in dealing with problems affecting the retirement savings system, O'Hanley said. If the country doesn't deal with the issues now, he added, there will be a more severe crisis 10 to 15 years from now, such as a significant increase in homelessness.
"It's a truly raw deal for the young," O'Hanley said. "I don't mean to be a doomsayer, but revolutions are fostered by the young."
O'Hanley made his remarks at the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce's Executive Forum at the Seaport World Trade Center.
Known for stock mutual funds such as the $68 billion Contrafund, Boston-based Fidelity also is the No. 1 provider of 401(k) retirement plans in the United States. It is the world's second-largest mutual fund company, with $1.5 trillion in managed assets at the end of November and $3.4 trillion in assets under administration.
When pressed after the speech for more thoughts about intergenerational inequity, O'Hanley said: "When all solutions are to the disadvantage to one segment of the population, that's a problem."
O'Hanley also expressed disappointment that discussions about fixing Social Security were not at the center of the Republican presidential election campaigns.
"There's been complete silence on the whole Social Security issue," he said.
In addition, he said American schools were not doing enough to teach students about financial literacy.
"It baffles me that we teach our kids about sex, we teach them about drugs, but we do nothing about teaching them financial education," O'Hanley said.
(Reporting by Tim McLaughlin; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)