While the departure of Ellyn McColgan from Fidelity as the company’s president of distribution and operations this week took investors off guard, analysts who closely follow the company note that it’s merely the latest in a series of departures by high-profile executives at the company, the International Herald Tribune reports.

Fidelity Chairman and CEO Edward “Ned” Johnson had promoted her to the position in April, only two months later to hire Rodger Lawson as president of FMR Corp., with McColgan now reporting to Lawson instead of directly to Johnson. It must have taken her off guard, analysts said, since she was the heir apparent to oversee the entire company when 77-year-old Johnson retires.

James Lowell, editor of Fidelity Investor, said he suspects the hiring of Lawson angered McColgan.

Other analysts say her departure indicates Johnson has no set plan for the future of the company. “The news showed a lack of stability at the top,” said John Bonnanzio, editor of Fidelity Insight. “When you have the world’s largest mutual fund company that cannot seem to retain or promote from within top management, it does not instill confidence either on the part of institutions or retail investors. There is a glass ceiling for anyone, male or female, who wants Ned’s job.

“There is a long history of people who want the top job and are capable of doing it,” he continued, “but they are never given the opportunity to show that they can run it. Mr. Lawson is already 60 years old, and there is no reason to think he will run it.”

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