Mutual fund giant Fidelity Investments is expected to lay off 200 employees this week in an effort to tighten spending, according to The Wall Street Journal.

James Lowell, editor of independent newsletter Fidelity Investor, said this will probably be the largest number of layoffs since 2002, when Fidelity cut about 5% of its workforce.

Lowell said he met recently with Fidelity President Rodger Lawson, who expressed his desire to streamline Fidelity.

“There is no question after my conversation with Mr. Lawson and others that there will be significant changes – not piecemeal layoffs, but the most measurable layoffs inside a decade,” Lowell said. “It could be a very clear and arguably healthy sign for those of us who have equity” in Fidelity’s funds and a clear indication “that this is a business that’s getting back to basics.”

Fidelity’s assets under management rose 15% to $1.38 trillion last year, but the company still reported an 11% drop in earnings, attributing the decline partly to rising staff numbers.

Fidelity spent $100 million last year to hire 5,000 employees, increasing its total work force to about 46,000.

In a September memo to employees, Lawson said the company must “curb expenses where they are wasteful, not only to avoid waste, but to compete – and win – against some very tough rivals in an unforgiving marketplace.”

Fidelity spokeswoman Anne Crowley said the company doesn't comment on staffing decisions.

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