Fidelity Investments has long been able to command the loyalty of banks and brokers by dint of its name and reputation. But in the wake of some recent pratfalls, the mutual-fund giant is in the unaccustomed position of having to explain itself to these constituents.

In a messy episode three weeks ago, one of Fidelity's top executives defected to run another fund company-a day after announcing in a Wall Street Journal article that he was considering doing so.

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