Everyone wants a piece of the high-net-worth market. No one knows this better than Fidelity Investments, which says that as of June 30, 2002, it custodied on its institutional brokerage platform more than $160 billion in high-net-worth assets (which Fidelity defines as individual accounts valued at more than $500,000). A recent NFO WorldGroup (http://www.investmentadvisor.com/show_article.asp?mid=794) found that the number of U.S. households with investable assets of $5 million or more increased in the past year [June to June] from 480,000 to 483,000, while millionaires with assets of only $1 million to $3 million dropped off 11%.
With this market in mind, Fidelity Investments Institutional Brokerage Group (www.ibg.fidelity.com) launched Fidelity WealthAccess on September 18. It’s a platform of “specialized” high-net-worth investment products and services Fidelity says was designed exclusively to help RIAs and correspondent B/Ds “expand their wealth management capabilities.”
“We know there’s been a lot of demand for these types of services, and we expect it to be a huge growth area,” explains Fidelity spokesperson Jenny Engle. “It’s why we’re making what is a considerable investment, and launching it at this time.”
According to Engle, the WealthAccess program has been “in the works” for 12-14 months. It is the result of feedback from the Fidelity brokerage group’s “advisor council” meetings, which are attended by RIAs, B/D reps–”a whole range of investment pros,” as Engle says. These individuals require more comprehensive tools to deal with HNWs’ changing needs, she says. “What we’re finding is that these folks who in the past just managed a portfolio for a client now want to evolve as more of an overall wealth manager,” she says, “and we feel that some of the things that are included in WealthAccess will allow them to do so.”
As for cost, the new program is free–in that it comes as an enhancement to the Fidelity Streetscape and Advisor Channel.com online platforms. The Fidelity RIA or B/D customer simply uses the appropriate link within either platform to access WealthAccess.
According to Fidelity, the WealthAccess program brings together high-net-worth products and services “from Fidelity and other providers,” and organizes these products and services around key areas thought to be of specific and general interest to advisors (and other financial services professionals). These include:
o Wealth Planning services, including Emerging Information Systems Inc.’s NaviPlan financial planning software, and Greene Consulting’s SkillMark, a Web-based wealth management training program.