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Rating:[UPDATE] What Changes Are in Store at Fido? Not Rated 2.9 Email Routing List Email & Route  Print Print
Thursday, April 19, 2007

[UPDATE] What Changes Are in Store at Fido?

Reported by Neil Anderson, Managing Editor

The coming departure of Bob Reynolds and the ascension of Ellyn McColgan heralds big change at Fidelity, at least in the eyes of one industry insider. Nothing, he predicts, from Boston Behemoth's pole position in industry lobbying efforts, will change.

"They're definitely moving away from the entrepreneurial spirit that built the company," observed Louis Harvey, president of DALBAR, in an interview with The 401kWire. "It's going to become a far more traditional, bureaucratic organization."

Another industry insider agreed that change is in store.

"McColgan and Reynolds have totally different personalities," the source said, while insisting that they're both "very highly competent."

And a spokesperson for Fidelity stressed that the firm is becoming more efficient, not more bureaucratic, through the consolidation.

"We're a very entrepreneurial company. It's what has made us strong," spokesperson Anne Crowley told The MFWire. "We are streamlining ... We're realigning our distribution and operations under two people: Ellyn McColgan and Abigail Johnson."

In Harvey's eyes, though, the moves are "sad news for Reynolds," whom he credits with practically single-handedly building up "the whole Fidelity retirement business." And he anticipates that Reynolds will take much of Fidelity's old spirit with him.

"What Bob Reynolds had was a mandate to go out and capture the DC market, and he did that," opined Harvey. "I don't think you're going to see that happen anymore."

But another industry observer thinks that the Boston Behemoth will be more than fine under McColgan's leadership.

"She's very highly competent, by the book, phenomenally capable ... sharp as a tack and tough as a nail," the source insisted. "Fidelity will be in very good hands."

Harvey also thinks Fidelity might be a bit quieter in Washington from here on in, even behind the scenes.

"Fidelity has been muscling the Department of Labor a lot recently, challenging the PPA. They [Fidelity] have said, 'You can't do this and this because operationally it won't work," Harvey explained, praising the Boston fund giant's "strength" in fighting, on behalf of the industry, over issues like 401(k) advice and QDIAs. "A lot of that comes from Reynolds, I think. I wonder, will they be that aggressive now?"

What about Bob himself? Spokespeople for Fidelity aren't saying much, Reynolds himself is keeping mum, and Harvey doesn't have any inside scoop. But he's guessing that, while Reynolds may relax for a while, this might not be the last that the fund and retirement industries will see of him.

"Who knows? I think he's probably going to take it easy for a while, then maybe he'll reappear somewhere," Harvey mused. "There isn't a fund company out there that wouldn't welcome him with open arms."

Others aren't sure about Reynolds' plans either. One source, while admitting he has "no clue what he'd do," speculated that it may be time for Reynolds to focus on his passions.

"He has time to work on what wants to do," the source opined, "as opposed to what he has to do." 

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