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Fidelity opens shop on Amazon.com

Fidelity Investments plans to sponsor a financial services store on Amazon.com, Fidelity said on Friday.
/ Source: Reuters

Fidelity is turning to Amazon.com as it fights to maintain its leadership position in the mutual funds industry, becoming the first vendor to sell goods on the online retailer’s new financial services store.

Boston-based Fidelity Investments hopes to tap Amazon’s  55 million active customers as competitors American Funds and Vanguard jockey for its title as the mutual fund family with the most assets under management.

“This is part of our effort to give customers access to our products in ways that are convenient to them,” Sean Belka, senior vice president at Fidelity Personal Investments, told Reuters  Friday.

Amazon spokesman Craig Berman said the deal with a financial services provider was a first for the company, but declined to say whether other partnerships were coming.

Amazon customers already come to the site for books and DVDs on financial services, he said.

“Now they can take that and use the relationship we have with Fidelity and turn that into something they can use,” said Berman, adding that Fidelity was also providing content such as a blog on Amazon’s financial services home page.

Fidelity began to sell its college savings and retirement plans two weeks ago in the virtual store, which can be accessed through a Fidelity logo on the Amazon home page.

Fidelity said the marketing agreement with Amazon also includes advertising, but declined to give more details on how it would take advantage of the customer base of the world’s largest Internet retailer and its online presence.

Amazon has more than 30 “stores” that sell products that include books, electronics and gourmet foods. The Seattle-based retailer also offers services like photo developing and travel bookings.

One analyst, Scott Devitt of Stifel Nicolaus, downplayed the deal, saying it had little value for the companies, whose businesses have little overlap.

“I don’t think it will drive that much traffic,” said Devitt, who tracks Amazon. “Why would a consumer go to Amazon to sign up with Fidelity? It sounds interesting but why? What’s the value proposition?”

Fidelity already advertises on Google  and Yahoo .

Belka said the Amazon deal would run for at least one year, but declined to say how many customers or assets the firm hopes to add during that time.

Fidelity said it had $1.2 trillion in managed assets as of January 31, the most recently available figure. Vanguard said it had about $960 billion in mutual funds as of the end of February, also the most recent figure.

Fidelity has mounted an advertising campaign featuring former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney while overhauling its management operations and boosting its funds’ performance as it tries to appeal to new and retain old investors.