“The first time I knew something had changed for the worse at Fidelity Investments,” writes James Cramer, in a remarkable forthcoming magazine piece made all the more remarkable by where it’s forthcoming, “I was, strangely enough, at my youngest daughter’s first-birthday party. My mother-in-law pulled me aside and said that something had gone wrong, very wrong, with her retirement money during 1994. She was in her 70s, and my wife and I had done her retirement planning, putting most of her cash in Fidelity’s Asset Manager fund. Her alarm got my attention.”
The story goes on from there with some pretty tough criticism of, and strong prescriptive remedies for, Fidelity. The mutual fund giant — Fido, as it’s affectionately known — manages close to half a trillion dollars.
The story will appear in the April issue of WORTH magazine, on newsstands in a couple of weeks. That’s remarkable, I think, because WORTH is owned by — that’s right — Fidelity. What’s more, no one at Fidelity has seen it yet. They’ll see it when you do.
“Does this mean you’re about to lose your job?” I asked my friend John Koten, the editor.
“I don’t think so,” he said. “In my experience, the folks at Fidelity have a lot of integrity and class (or I wouldn’t be working here to begin with). Truth is, while I do feel on the brave side in pursuing this piece, Fido also deserves a certain amount of credit for being the sorts of owners that have given me the freedom and license to publish this sort of piece. Not many owners would do that. And not many magazines have run tough pieces about the company that owns them. Has Fortune ever taken on Time-Warner? No, but they recently have gone after Forbes and Dow Jones. Has the Journal ever written a tough piece on Dow Jones? No. But they have taken on Time-Warner. (The Journal did write critically about itself during the Foster Winans episode, but it never has said much negative about Dow Jones.) Before I was even hired, I told Ned [Johnson, who owns most of Fidelity] I’d probably have to do something like this sooner or later. He said: OK.”
So: I thought you might want to read Cramer’s piece in WORTH. Or if you can’t wait, click here to read it on-line starting today or tomorrow. And hats off to Ned Johnson for being that kind of owner.
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A cult is a religion with no political power.~Tom Wolfe
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