INTERVIEW: Fidelity Marketing Director reflects on 7 years at the top

Alex Sword


The Financial Services Forum

James Harris, Head of Marketing at Fidelity International, is stepping down from his role at the end of June after seven and a half years in the position and almost 20 years at the company. James began his career at Zurich Life, with roles at Jupiter Fund Management and M&G. As James begins a career break, we caught up with him to reflect on his years at Fidelity.


What have been the highlights of your time at Fidelity?

The breadth of the Fidelity offering has given me the opportunity to work in the asset management, wealth management, adviser and workplace investing platform market.  I’ve been lucky to work across distribution, marketing, product strategy and development.

I’ve been able to develop product strategy and a range of marketing capabilities across customer insight, digital experience and technology and many more, but importantly how you use it to service client relationships and what that means for your product, sales, marketing & service model.

I was lucky to be part of a great leadership team who challenged each other and really had a 360 view on what we needed to achieve for a joined-up client, product and distribution strategy and the results (obviously with some great product too), meant we were able to grow the business seven years in a row.

I also got to travel, 19 countries in total, to experience different markets, cultures and meet some great people.


What approach and mindset do you think underpinned your success?

I’ve been privileged to learn from some great leaders and work with great people.

I think being outcome and customer focused, using insight to inform views and decisions is key. Leaders should have an opinion but it’s important to listen and ensure it’s informed by customer understanding – we are not typical of our customers so you have to temper your personal bias.

I also think you need to remain curious and be open to ideas and different approaches.  Then recognising leadership is only successful if you can empower and help your teams grow and recognise other people’s success, which leads me to two of my borrowed mantras:

“Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence”


“Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.”

Finally, ideally being able to have a bit of humour and fun on the journey.


How has asset management marketing evolved while you were there and where is it going next?

The role of marketing and its commercial impact has been different according to business line.  For asset management it’s really worked for me when you can ensure a strategic dialogue and foster alignment across product, investment and sales teams.

There are many changes I’ve seen which impact the approach, the growth of gatekeepers, product breadth across asset classes and structures, the increased use of platforms and the power of data and digital.

In terms of what next, I have to mention AI where I see opportunities across content, creative and code (customer / marketing data).


And what’s next for you?

Right now it’s a bit of travel, spending quality time with the family having a general rest and reset and then working out what next.

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