David Lamere's short-lived and mysterious stint as head of Fidelity Private Wealth Management has ended, and the division itself has been shut down as a stand-alone unit, Financial Planning has learned.
Lamere, a veteran and highly regarded wealth management executive who was CEO of BNY Mellon Wealth Management before joining Fidelity late in 2012, left the giant financial services company the same way he entered, with no official announcement or press release.
The Private Wealth Management unit was established to build out investment management, asset allocation, and trust products and services for high-net-worth clients, partnering with Fidelity’s retail Personal Investing division, a Fidelity spokesman said last year. Lamere -- who spent more than 25 years with BNY and built its wealth management division into a global powerhouse with over $150 billion in client assets -- was charged with developing the new group’s business plan and organizational structure, the spokesman said at the time.
The unit was also set up to work with Fidelity’s Institutional Wealth Services division on the “continued expansion and enhancement” of the Wealth Advisor Solutions referral program, which refers Fidelity customers to approximately 100 qualified independent RIA clients of Fidelity.
Asked Wednesday about Lamere's departure and the closing of Private Wealth Management, Fidelity spokesman Vincent Loporchio said, "What began as a small wealth management pilot offering in a few select regions of the U.S. has today grown into a fully operational offering serving a number of affluent clients. This program complements Fidelity’s existing network of service providers including attorneys, tax advisors, as well as independent RIAs through the Wealth Advisor Solutions program."
Lamere was hired "specifically to get this new initiative up and running," Loporchio said Wednesday.
"Given the success and maturity of this initiative," Loporchio added, "the timing is right to fully integrate our new wealth management offering into our Global Asset Allocation and [Personal Investing] divisions to ensure we are best-positioned to meet the growing needs of Fidelity’s affluent client base. As a result, Dave Lamere, who served as president Fidelity’s Private Wealth Management division, has left the company to pursue other opportunities."
But some industry observers believe there may be more to the story, noting that Ronald O'Hanley -- a longtime colleague of Lamere's at BNY Mellon and his boss as Fidelity's head of Asset Management -- is leaving the company this month.
One executive who worked with Lamere and asked not to be identified said he believed Lamere owed his mandate to O'Hanley, and that both men were frustrated by internal politics and rivalries "inside the Fidelity labyrinth." With Private Wealth Management, the executive said, Lamere and O'Hanley had been attempting to build out a separate business for clients with between $2 million and $20 million in assets.
Although Loporchio declined to specify the asset base targeted by the shuttered division, he said that Fidelity’s "wealth management offering is designed for high-net-worth investors, primarily those who have invested in professionally managed accounts through Fidelity."
Roger Hobby, who most recently was president of Wilmington Trust's northeast division, now heads a unit called Wealth Management, which is part of Fidelity's Personal Investing division, Loporchio said Wednesday. Before joining Wilmington Trust in 2008, Hobby spent 17 years working for Fidelity's Family Office division.
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