Fidelity Investments Institutional Services has been rebranded as Fidelity Financial Advisor Solutions. Lynne A. Goldman, its executive vice president of investment product management and marketing, talked with Money Management Editor Lee Barney about how the business helps advisers help investors.
MME: What are your current areas of focus?
Lynne Goldman: "Solutions'' is one of those words that gets used a lot, but we truly believe that we are providing solutions to advisers, so much so that we wanted to adopt it in our name.
There are three things that we are very focused on in 2012. You probably have been following our business here at Fidelity for a while and know that we are constantly working with our investment management team to identify new ways to solve client issues around saving for retirement, or for other purposes.
The first thing that I would like to mention is that we will continue to focus on product innovation, new products and solutions, and making sure that we improve our existing products.
The second area is retirement planning. We are finding that with volatile markets as well as a whole generation heading into retirement that it is important that we actually stay focused on what the end investors' needs are and what our advisers' needs are.
The last area of focus for this year is truly something that our advisers have responded very, very well to, and that is that investors are frozen in the headlines. They are reading a lot. They are calling their advisers. The advisers are trying to deliver to these investors, in very straightforward messages, about how to interpret market volatility and what these headlines mean.
And so, we are continuing to focus on helping the advisers get accurate with clients by giving them not only materials and information they can use to start conversations with their clients, but also on bringing our intellectual capital right to the advisers as an extension of their efforts. They truly value them. We have heard that time and time again from them.
MME: Isn't Fidelity already well-known for leveraging its intellectual capital? What are you doing that is different in 2012?
Goldman: What we're finding is that advisers need even more help with how to talk to their investors. So this year, we are going to spend a little bit more time on giving them tools and tips and structuring the information that we are providing to them in ways that they can turn around and use to start or carry on a conversation, or respond to the common inquiries that we know that they are getting.
The second thing that is a little bit different going into 2012 is we are going to spend more time on serving the needs of individuals at institutions-by putting more time into our proprietary research.
What we are hearing is that they want to know how well they are doing compared to others that are in the same business. So benchmarking-type studies have become increasingly popular, and we are going to spend more time on providing this information.
MME: Would you like to expand a little bit on which Fidelity fund products or applications are resonating among the advisor community at this time?
Goldman: First of all, the biggest issue in a generation is the Baby Boomers who are beginning to enter retirement. With the equity markets generating this extreme volatility, investors now, actually more than ever, are looking to fixed income solutions to provide both income and capital preservation.
We have three different investment product solutions that have been extremely popular, whether or not you are looking for income and capital preservation, income and growth, or protection against inflation. Those are the three Fidelity Strategic Funds within the Fidelity family of funds.
The second thing that we have heard has to do more recently with advisers looking for more broad-based solutions. I wouldn't say that style box investing is any less popular, it's just that we have heard from advisers that they are looking for investment solutions for all types of environments. So we are seeing increased interest in funds that have a broader mandate, like our Fidelity Advisor Global Strategies portfolio, as an example. The reason why they like it is that it offers strong diversification.
MME: Ron O'Hanley, president of asset management at Fidelity Investments, gave an interesting keynote speech at Fund Forum USA's Global Funds Distribution Summit in November (MME 11/14/11) in which he said investors are no longer following performance and have been fleeing equities with no end in sight. How has Fidelity responded to the change in the retail asset management industry in recent times?
Goldman: It's hard to predict which way the markets are going, and the volatility has certainly made investors ill at ease with strategies that had worked for them in the past. And what we are trying to do is constantly remind not only investors but also advisers on the importance of remaining diversified, over the long term.
Another thing I'd say that perhaps Ron O'Hanley didn't touch on, goes back to the first thing I said, and that is that we recognize investors' concerns, advisers' concerns. We're spending a lot of time making sure that what we have to offer by way of investment solutions meets their needs and is the best we can provide, from all of the intellectual horsepower at Fidelity.
MME: You have held a variety of key marketing positions. What do you enjoy about your job and what do you attribute your success to?
Goldman: I really do enjoy the dynamic nature of the market and the need to continually anticipate how to address not only advisers' needs but investors' needs.
The second thing is how world-class the Fidelity Investments organization is. The opportunity to work for such an organization full of smart and dedicated associates is what I enjoy the most.
In terms of success, I'd say there's probably three things. One is I love what I do, having been in this industry for almost 30 years. I am passionate about the asset management business. And the last thing is that, we place a high value on execution. Having spent the majority of my career at Fidelity, I'd like to think that I have learned how to deliver, especially in an organization that places such a high value on it.
Lee Barney writes for Money Management Executive.