Beware of Friendly Investment Advice at your Local Charity

by JC Thursday, Apr. 29, 2010 at 7:28 PM

Can you trust that investment broker at your local charity?

I have been working at Fidelity Investments for some time now and I need to get something off of my chest. One of things I thought was cool about working for Fidelity was that we are strongly encouraged to join charitable organizations. It helps not only the image of Fidelity, but it also extends our network and increases our bottom line. At first I thought this was a win-win situation, but I now have second thoughts.

Have you ever googled our email address? Try googling “” and “charity” together, and you will get an idea of how many of our investment counselors join local charities. Fact is, this is not really voluntary. We join because if we do not, we will not have a job. Part of our job is to go out, join charities (in our “free” time), and then use the connections we form to “influence” charity volunteers to invest via Fidelity. Most employers do not want you using their email address for personal use. We use our work email addresses because Fidelity wants you to associate Fidelity with charity. We want you to trust us so that we can make more money off of you. Fidelity calls this activity “influencing” and the ability of a Fidelity investor to “influence” is a large factor in the company's assessment of the investor.

I'm sharing this because several very good people that I've “influenced” (for my own benefit) have been ruined by my “influencing.” I feel bad about it. Please, realize that investment people involved in your charitable life are in it for themselves. Our advice is not for your benefit, it is for our benefit.

Original: Beware of Friendly Investment Advice at your Local Charity