Fidelity, Amazon See Mutual Gains Online

BOSTON If you search for the book Financial Planning for Dummies at Amazon.com, don’t be surprised if you also get a recommendation for a Fidelity mutual fund. The investment firm has become the first mutual fund vendor to sell at Amazon’s new financial services store, and the deal is also Fidelity’s first with an online retailer.

While Fidelity won’t complain about any sales it may garner, the company sees this as more of a brand-building exercise. “At the end of the day this is really about building trust with our customers,” said Robert O’Neil, Fidelity’s svp of customer development. “Fidelity is a well-known brand, but we wanted to really be able to bring content to consumers.” The content is being offered under the label, “Fidelity Investment’s Amazon Blog,” with such topics as “10 Myths of IRA Investing.”

For its part, Amazon sees this partnership as a natural evolution for the company. “We already offer tax preparation software and computers to run it on,” said Amazon representative Craig Berman. “It only makes sense that we offer other financial solutions as well.”

Analysts said the partnership is a breakthrough for both the mutual fund industry and the two firms. “This is definitely revolutionary, especially among the old-guard financial service providers,” said Gerry McGoldrick, svp of performance marketing at Refinery in Philadelphia, an interactive marketing agency. “For Fidelity, this is about the mainstreaming of financial services, making them into more of a commodity. For Amazon, this is about becoming more of a portal and less of just a retail spot.”

The only other such service currently being offered at Amazon is Weight Watchers. But Berman expects the company will have more offerings, which could even include other financial service providers.