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Friday, July 02, 2010

Fidelity's 401k Door Now Swings Both Ways

News summary by MFWire's editors

Fidelity has ridden its reputation as a top provider of 401(k) plans over the past two decades to more than a trillion dollars of AUM. Now, there are signs that its reputation is starting to crack. Thursday, a Reuters report claimed that Fidelity saw a net loss of 400 defined contribution plan clients over the nine months ended March 2010.

While Fidelity remains the largest 401(k) provider and is not going to disappear anytime soon, its defined-contribution retirement plan business has taken a big hit over the past year declining from 17,500 at the end of June 2009 to 17,100 at the end of March 2010.

A spokesman for the Boston Behemoth told The MFWire that the Reuters report is "a look at some narrow 401(k) data."

"We are the number one provider of workplace retirement savings plans in the U.S--the largest manager of 401(k) plan assets," he said, offering perhaps a more standard time frame, stating that defined contribution plans (401(k), 403(b), etc.) administered by Fidelity increased from 22,886 at the end of March 2009 to 22,913 at the end of March 2010, which is a runup of 37 plans.

Earlier this year, Fidelity lost a couple of high profiles clients including Apple Inc. and Ford Motor Co. to competitors Charles Schwab Corp. and Affiliated Computer Services, but did manage to save some face with the addition of General Electric Co. around the same time.

One senior executive at a Fidelity competitor in the mega plan market told the MFWire that his firm is winning back some of the business that it lost to Fidelity at the start of the last decade.

"They are not spending the money on customer service to meet the promises that they had made to plan sponsors," said the executive. He sees that failure as reopening a door to business that had once been closed.  

Edited by: Hung Tran

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