Fidelity Investments appears to be losing momentum when it comes to attracting fresh clients to its direct investor channel. New retail accounts openings continued to slide for a second straight quarter.
Recent data from the Boston-based company shows that while the number of retail accounts is still growing, the same can’t be said about the pace.
Fidelity’s total retail accounts reached 34.4 million in the second quarter, up 13% year-over-year. That’s just slightly lower than the 14% year-over-year gain in total retail accounts in the first quarter, which ended with 33.5 million accounts.
New retail accounts were down by 20% in the second quarter, to 1.3 million, however, compared with the same period last year.
In the first quarter, new retail accounts were down by 54%, to 1.5 million, compared with the same quarter in the previous year.
Many of the clients, or 41%, who opened new retail accounts in the second quarter are aged 18 to 35 years old, according to Fidelity.
In March, Fidelity said it took steps to attract young investors in 2021. The firm noted at the time that it introduced Fidelity Youth Account, a saving, spending and investing account for those 13-to-17-years old. The firm then added that it is also using platforms such as TikTok and Reddit to make financial services more approachable and saving and investing accessible and relevant for younger investors.
Nevertheless, in the face of market volatility, Fidelity remains focused on technology and people, according to its chairman and chief executive officer Abigail Johnson.
Fidelity hired more than 5,800 individuals in the second quarter, adding to the 5,100 the company hired in the first quarter. The company plans to add a total of 12,000 employees by the end of third quarter.
The planned hiring is in line with Fidelity’s efforts to better serve its clients, introduce modern technology offerings and expand access to financial support and education, according to the company’s second-quarter business update.
The new hires are for various roles in the company involving all functions, but most, or 69%, will be for customer-facing roles and 14% will be devoted to technology roles, according to Fidelity.
This furthers past years’ growth efforts from Fidelity, which notes that brought on 16,600 new workers in 2021.
“In uncertain and volatile economic environments, we know there is a need for in-depth financial planning conversations, which is why the human element remains critical,” Johnson said in the company’s second-quarter business update.
“We continue to invest in people and technology because our commitment to delivering superior customer service is not going away and is something that we believe differentiates us,” she added.
Fidelity added new digital features, educational materials and new products and services during the quarter.
Among the digital enhancements, the company said it introduced in April The Fidelity Stack— “its first immersive metaverse experience aimed at offering a new way to learn investing basics.”
Fidelity said it also educated clients about cryptocurrencies and unveiled a retirement strategies tax estimator.
In terms of products, the company touted the rollout of Fidelity Managed FidFolios and Fidelity Solo FidFolios, which offer “easier access to direct indexing.” These portfolios can have an environmental focus or use a U.S. large-cap index, according to the company.
Fidelity also introduced a Digital Assets Account that allows clients to incorporate Bitcoin into retirement accounts.
By the Numbers
Fidelity’s assets under administration reached $9.9 trillion in the second quarter, down 10% from a year ago.
Workplace plan participant accounts reached 1.3 million, down 20% from a year ago.
Total discretionary assets declined to $3.7 trillion, down 11% from a year ago.
Clearing and custody accounts, however, saw an uptick of 10% from last year, reaching eight million.