Fidelity Investments is scaling back some services geared to high-net- worth customers.
The Boston-based mutual fund company has stopped accepting individual securities in its managed accounts and scrapped an account with a $500,000 minimum that was touted as a "tax-sensitive" asset management service. These moves could make Fidelity's portfolio advisory services less appealing to wealthy clients.
Fidelity also recently disbanded an 11-person sales team that catered to the affluent.
Amid the changes, two key executives in Fidelity's wealth management business have departed. They are Lynn Davis, a veteran private banker who stepped down in January as head of Fidelity Asset Management and Trust Group, and Frimette T. Field, who ran the sales team until this month. They could not be reached for comment.
The sales employees are being assigned to other jobs, but neither Ms. Davis nor Ms. Field is being replaced, Fidelity said.
That leaves Evelyn Somers in charge of the portfolio advisory services group, which handles managed and wrap accounts. James Cornell, whose former duties as chief client investment officer of the asset management and trust group have been absorbed by Ms. Somers' group, is now overseeing Fidelity's four trust companies.
The changes leave Fidelity's portfolio advisory services group as the centerpiece of the giant fund company's efforts to manage wealthy clients' assets. The group, which has a $200,000 account minimum, has amassed 12,000 customers and $4.2 billion of assets under management since it was established in 1989.
Fidelity's premium services group of more than 100 telephone representatives remains in place to field calls from customers with substantial assets.
The moves suggest that Fidelity is targeting the "high-end mass market," said Charles B. Wendel, president of Financial Institutions Consulting. This market, made up of people who are building substantial wealth but do not yet qualify for private banking services, is growing rapidly.
Fidelity said it is refocusing its approach to play to its strength: mutual funds. Instead of holding itself out as a personalized portfolio manager, the company is emphasizing a hybrid service-wrap accounts-for its wealthier clients.
Wrap accounts are portfolios made up of a variety of mutual funds. Customers are advised on which funds to buy, and they pay for the service with annual fees, typically around 1% of assets invested.
"We see tremendous growth and opportunity in the mutual fund wrap marketplace," a spokeswoman said. When Fidelity recently decided not to accept individual securities in client portfolios, it began letting clients include funds managed by other companies.
One observer said Fidelity may have lacked the patience to cultivate the wealth management business.
Fidelity is used to prospects "turning on the TV and the money coming in the door," said William R. White, a senior consultant with San Francisco- based Spectrem Group.