Fidelity Cuts Costs on Technology, Trading

"Competitive response" includes waiving trade commissions for new accounts

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Fidelity Institutional announced September 10 a range of price cuts and time-bounded fee waivers for advisors who custody client assets at Fidelity. Acknowledging that the move was a "competitive response," Michael Durbin, president of Fidelity Institutional Wealth Services, called the cuts and waivers "an important part of our commitment to the RIA channel--we want to make sure that price isn't somehow an impediment for our RIA clients or prospective RIA clients in their decision on how to choose a custodian." Schwab Advisor Services, the San Francisco-based company's RIA custody arm, announced very similar cuts and waivers earlier this summer.

The Fidelity cuts include time-bounded waivers from October 1, 2009, through June 30, 2010, on:

l commissions on electronic equity and options trades and transfer of account fees for new-to-Fidelity relationships established by advisors.

l annual position fees for all new alternative investment accounts, annual trustee fees for all new personal trust accounts, and annual custody fees for new accounts in Separate Account Network, Fidelity's separately managed account platform.

In addition, Fidelity announced a permanent 10% to 35% cut on annual services fees for the Oracle CRM application on its Fidelity WealthCentral technology platform, and an up to 50% discount on the annual cost of Advent's APX-hosted multi-custodial platform for 2010 and 2011.

Durbin said that Fidelity gives its RIA clients "the appropriate amount of credit" that they make their custodial decision on a number of factors, "most of which are long term and strategic, and relationship based," but the price cuts were designed to "make sure that price isn't an impediment when it comes to that discovery and decision-making process."

Durbin said that the price cuts and waivers were "a competitive response--we're more than happy to acknowledge that--this is a competitive marketplace."

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