Are record profits a harbinger of trouble at Fidelity?

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19 February 2015
William Trout
I’ve taken a few shots at Charles Schwab on this blog, so perhaps it is only fair that Fidelity should fall into the cross hairs. In my last blog post, I questioned some of the logic behind the eMoney Advisor acquisition. Here I probe Fidelity’s own take on its performance in 2014. As noted in the firm’s annual report, this past year saw Fidelity achieve some big milestones. In a strong market, the firm scored unprecedented profits, topping $2T in AUM and $5T in administered assets (largely retirement funds) under new chief executive Abigail Johnson. And the Boston-based broker custodian is hardly resting on its laurels. The eMoney acquisition and strategic partnerships with automated advisor Betterment and the online financial firm LearnVest show the firm is moving with gusto into the digital advice business, with a particular focus on the high value, goals focused planning function. I’d say give kudos to new CEO Ms. Johnson, but it is hard to say how much initiatives like these reflect a changing of the guard, or the startled reaction of a technology giant being hoisted on its own petard. I’ll share with you detailed thoughts in my next post, but to me, the recent flurry of activity suggests a little fear down on Summer Street.

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