Business is clearly good at Fidelity Investments.
The Boston financial giant is putting out the “Help Wanted” sign in a big way, saying Tuesday it wants to add 9,000 US workers in the second half of this year. Combined with earlier initiatives, Fidelity expects to hire 16,000 new employees in 2021, doubling last year’s growth and bringing its US workforce to more than 60,000.
Think about that for a minute: Even after the usual attrition (and a voluntary buyout program in June), the 75-year-old company is increasing its ranks by more than one-fifth in a year. Unfortunately for Massachusetts, most of the hiring is happening elsewhere.
Here’s the backstory.
With the Standard & Poor’s 500 index up 20 percent this year, Fidelity has been attracting customers at a rapid clip as investors — especially millennials and Generation Z — dive deeper into the market and become more comfortable with bitcoin and other digital assets. Its institutional investment and corporate benefits businesses are also thriving.
The company added 1.7 million retail accounts in the second quarter, a 39 percent increase from a year earlier. Four out of 10 of those accounts were opened by customers 35 years old or younger. Fidelity managed $4.2 trillion in customer assets as of June 30, up 26 percent from a year earlier.
“Our financial strength and stability allow us to make significant investments in our businesses,” Abigail Johnson, the company’s chairman and chief executive, said in a statement.
The outlook wasn’t so bright in early 2020, when the COVID-19 crisis crashed the market and investment firms were locked into a race to the bottom with no-fee funds and no-commission trading. But Fidelity didn’t flinch as competitors E*Trade Financial and TD Ameritrade were gobbled up by Morgan Stanley and Charles Schwab Corp., respectively.
The company instead continued to build its fund roster, opened more customer service centers (including one recently in Rhode Island), and rolled out cryptocurrency trading and accounts for the teenage children of clients. A long-term diversification effort — into index funds, retirement and employee-benefit plan management, securities lending, and other lines of business — has really paid off.
With more than 38 million customers, Fidelity is bulking up on the people and technology needed to keep them happy. The company said more than 40 percent of this year’s recruits will be in client-facing positions, including call center representatives, financial advisers, and institutional customer managers. Almost 10 percent of the new positions will be in technology.
But as Fidelity expands, its presence in Massachusetts has shrunk. In 2010, the company had 8,000 workers in the state. At the end of last year that number was 5,700, or 13 percent of the US workforce.
Back in the 1990s, Abigail Johnson’s father and predecessor, Edward “Ned” Johnson III, shifted workers to states including New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Kentucky, partly to convey his unhappiness with Massachusetts taxes. Later, Fidelity added workers in different time zones so it could provide longer customer service hours. Earlier this year the company said it would hire 1,000 financial planners in new markets including Chicago, Los Angeles, and Seattle.
The hiring announced Tuesday, which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal, includes 950 jobs in New Hampshire and 850 in Rhode Island, but just 365 in Massachusetts.
In a big country, and in a business like financial services, the hometown simply isn’t as important as it was a generation ago.