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David Canter of Fidelity

Industry Spotlight > RIAs

David Canter’s Fidelity Exit Is a Blow to the Firm’s RIA Business: Industry Experts

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What You Need to Know

  • David Canter will step down as head of the Fidelity Investments RIA segment at the end of this month.
  • Consultants characterize Canter as an emotionally intelligent leader and confidante to top RIAs.
  • Canter's future plans were not immediately known.

The decision by David Canter to step down as head of the Fidelity Investments RIA segment after five years in that role deals a blow to the firm, according to industry experts.

“David has decided to pursue an opportunity outside of Fidelity, and we are not at liberty to disclose his next role at this time,” a company spokesperson told ThinkAdvisor on Tuesday.

“This is a natural next step in David’s career and Fidelity is fully supportive of his decision to make this move,” the spokesperson said, adding “he leaves Fidelity at the end of July.”

Fidelity is “evaluating what David’s succession looks like based on the needs of our RIA and Family Office clients with the goal of bolstering our strength in the custodian space,” the spokesperson noted.

“David leaves behind a strong RIA and Family Office business with an exceptional team of leaders and associates who all remain committed to strengthening relationships with these clients, as well as delivering the best solutions and services to meet their needs,” the spokesperson added. “They will report to Rohit Mahna, Fidelity Institutional’s Head of Client Growth, on an interim basis.”

Canter did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday. News of his departure from Fidelity was first reported by Citywire.

A ‘Setback’

“I do believe this is a big setback for Fidelity, particularly with their biggest and largest RIAs who relied on Canter personally to help them refine their business strategies and position their firms for change,” Timothy Welsh, CEO, president and founder of Nexus Strategy, told ThinkAdvisor by email.

“Canter was always on the forefront of industry trends and how they would impact RIAs’ businesses, often serving in the role as a personal advisor and confidante to many of the industry’s most famous and successful RIAs,” Welsh said, adding Canter “will be sorely missed” at Fidelity.

Welsh worked with Canter at Charles Schwab earlier in their careers. Welsh was director of Business Consulting Services at Schwab Institutional from 1999 to 2005. Canter was with Schwab from 2000 to 2008, first as vice president at Schwab Institutional and then head legal counsel of Schwab Institutional.

Agreeing with Welsh, Doug Fritz, CEO and founder of F2 Strategy, told ThinkAdvisor: “I think this is a blow to Fidelity.” But Fritz was quick to add it’s “been softened by David’s legacy of growing talent within his organization.”

However, it remains “to be seen whether the culture will shift to more programmatic and restrictive,” according to Fritz, who added: “I hope they will continue to play to their strengths of service and flexibility!”

Meanwhile, “we’re watching actively who they’ll hire in and hope it’s someone with the same level of emotional intelligence and commitment to service,” Fritz said. “Our fingers are crossed!”

Canter has been with Fidelity since September 2009, when he joined the company as executive vice president, Practice Management & Consulting, Fidelity Clearing & Custody.

In March 2017, he shifted to head of the RIA segment and remained an executive vice president. Prior to Fidelity, Canter served as chief legal and compliance officer at Post Advisory Group from October 2008 through August 2009, according to his LinkedIn profile.