Fidelity Investments plans to significantly reduce its minimum investment requirements to provide easier access to its funds for smaller planning groups and individual investors.

Gerard Doherty, Fidelity’s managing director in Australia, said yesterday that while his biggest challenge was to get the firm’s investment capabilities better known among planners, there were a lot of “little things” to be done to grow the business. Doherty was recruited late last year from Perpetual Investments, where he had been for 15 years, and started his new job in February. His predecessor, Michael Ohlsson, resigned last year after four years with the firm. Doherty said minimum investments, currently at the standard institutional rate of $500,000, would be reduced to below $100,000 by the end of the year. “We need to look at our administration, call centres and reporting before we do that,” he said. He would also be hiring some new staff to boost the number of people “fronting financial planners”, including a new head of retail to replace Megan Unsworth who left last week. Fidelity had already been searching for a head of institutional business. Doherty said the firm would be focusing more on its Australian and global equities strategies in the immediate future, rather than the single-country funds which were launched in 2005, for which inflows have been modest. “Our research is our edge and perhaps we haven’t told that story as well as we could have … We need to promote our fantastic funds management capability to both institutional and intermediary markets. But at the same time we will be keeping a close watch on the self-directed market,” he said. “We live or die on our investment skills, just the same as everyone else.” The Australian equities team, under Paul Taylor, is coming up to a five-year track record and has been well rated by the retail research houses.

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