Borrowing a strategy straight from the playbook of its longtime chairman, Edward "Ned" Johnson III, Fidelity Investments has quietly built one of the industry's biggest brokerage houses.

Led by Wall Street veteran Ellyn McColgan, who was tapped from within to lead the firm's brokerage assault in October 2002, the Fidelity unit has used a "spend now for profits later" philosophy to muscle aside rivals Charles Schwab and Merrill Lynch, Business Week reports.

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