For Fidelity Investments, the world’s second-biggest mutual-fund company, plunging into exchange-traded funds (ETFs) doesn’t mean it’s embracing index-based investing.
“This allows us to do what we’ve done for decades: focus on active management by getting to the market with 10 building blocks,” said Anthony Rochte, head of the Fidelity unit that on Thursday introduced the cheapest lineup of single-industry ETFs.
The index-tracking funds started trading on the NYSE Arca exchange, covering industries including telecommunications, materials and finance.
Fidelity intends to market the ETFs to its brokerage clients as components of portfolios they can construct for themselves and within model portfolios built and managed by the firm.
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The move kicks off Fidelity’s efforts under Abigail Johnson, who was promoted to president in August, to benefit from the explosive growth of low-cost ETFs, which typically track market or industry indexes while trading on exchanges throughout the day like stocks.
Fidelity had almost ignored ETFs for years even as it struggled to retain mutual-fund clients. Fidelity’s assets under management rose 11 percent to $1.77 trillion from the end of 2007 through June 30. Assets at Vanguard Group, Fidelity’s biggest rival for individual investors, jumped 73 percent to $2.6 trillion.