How Does Fidelity Make Money If They Don’t Charge Fees?: Understanding Their Revenue Streams

Are you curious about how Fidelity makes money if they don’t charge any fees? It may seem too good to be true, but there is actually a simple answer. Fidelity is able to make money through various investment products, such as mutual funds and exchange-traded funds, which charge investors expense ratios. Essentially, these ratios are fees that investors pay for owning these investment products.

Although these expense ratios may be low, ranging from 0.04% to 1.00%, they can add up over time, especially if you have a large investment portfolio. Additionally, Fidelity offers their own proprietary mutual funds and ETFs, giving them the ability to charge higher expense ratios and generate more revenue. It’s worth noting that Fidelity also earns money through interest on cash balances that investors hold in their accounts.

So, even though Fidelity doesn’t charge any fees for certain account types, such as their popular Cash Management account, they are still able to earn revenue through various channels. As the investment landscape continues to evolve, it’s interesting to see how companies like Fidelity are finding new ways to make money and offer more value to their clients.

Fidelity’s Business Model

Fidelity Investments is one of the largest and most respected investment management and financial services companies in the world. The company offers a range of financial products and services, including mutual funds, ETFs, brokerage services, retirement planning, and wealth management services. Fidelity has a reputation for being a pioneer in the industry, and this is reflected in its business model.

  • Assets Under Management (AUM): Like most investment management companies, Fidelity’s main source of revenue is AUM fees. Fidelity manages over $2.7 trillion in assets, and it charges a fee of around 0.25% to 1% of AUM for its various investment services.
  • Brokerage Services: Fidelity’s brokerage services also generate revenue for the company. Fidelity charges a commission on trades, which is typically around $4.95 per trade. While some brokers offer fee-free trading, Fidelity’s commission is competitive for the industry.
  • Interest Income: Fidelity also earns income through the interest on the cash balances in its customers’ accounts. When investors hold cash in Fidelity accounts, the company invests that cash in other assets, such as bonds or short-term securities and earns interest on those investments.

Despite not charging fees for certain services, Fidelity still generates revenue from other parts of its business model. Additionally, Fidelity offers several premium services, such as wealth management services, that charge a higher fee. These premium services are geared towards high-net-worth individuals or institutions who require a more personalized level of service. In this way, Fidelity is able to cater to a broader range of investors and their various financial needs.

How do commission-free trades work?

Commission-free trading has revolutionized the investment world. It has made it possible for small investors to enter the market without worrying about the financial burden of traditional trading fees. This has opened up a whole new world of investment possibilities. But how do commission-free trades work?

  • Payment for order flow: This is a practice where a brokerage firm receives compensation for directing orders to particular market makers. Market makers execute the trades, and compensation for their services comes in the form of a small percentage of the spread between the bid and ask prices. In simple terms, they get paid for the difference between the buying and selling prices of securities.
  • Interest: All funds held within a brokerage account earn interest. Brokerages leverage these funds to invest in short-term securities, such as Treasuries. The profits generated from these investments are what they use to finance commission-free trading.
  • Margin: Margin is another revenue stream for brokerages. By allowing clients to borrow money to invest, brokerages can charge interest on the funds borrowed. This interest is how Fidelity makes money through margin lending.

It is important to note that even though commission-free trades do not entail a service charge, other fees may apply. These include regulatory fees, transaction fees, and fees for additional services such as margin borrowing or options trading.

Understanding Zero Expense Ratio Mutual Funds

In addition to commission-free trades, brokerage firms have introduced zero expense ratio mutual funds. These funds do not charge fees associated with buying or selling shares, which makes them a popular choice for investors looking for a low-cost way to build a diversified portfolio.

Fidelity offers a few dozen of these mutual funds, which has allowed them to attract more customers to their platform. They are able to earn revenue from the interest generated from the funds, and the funds are able to maintain their zero expense ratios because they are able to invest in in-house Fidelity funds.

The Bottom Line

The rise of commission-free trades and zero expense ratio mutual funds has made investing more accessible to everyone. However, it is important to remember that despite the lack of trading fees, other costs might apply. An investor should always understand the fine print and read and discuss with a financial advisor before making any investment decisions.

Pros of Commission-Free Trades Cons of Commission-Free Trades
Lower barrier to entry for new investors Possible hidden fees
Opportunity to diversify portfolio without worrying about costs Best execution not assured
Less financial burden for frequent traders Limited access to certain assets or investment products

Overall, commission-free trading offers investors a more straightforward investment process at a lower cost. With support from new regulation, it has become a common practice nowadays. Compared to traditional trading methods, commission-free trading has brought more opportunities to many people.

Fidelity’s Revenue Streams Beyond Trading Fees

While Fidelity is widely known for not charging trading fees, the company has other revenue streams that help it remain profitable and successful. Here are three of the main ways Fidelity makes money:

  • Asset Management Fees: Fidelity is one of the largest asset managers in the world, with more than $8 trillion in assets under management. The company charges fees for managing those assets, typically based on a percentage of the total assets being managed. These fees range from around 0.2% to 1% or more, depending on the type of account and the specific investment portfolio.
  • Interest Income: Fidelity also generates revenue by earning interest on the cash and securities held in its customers’ accounts. The company can invest these assets in short-term debt instruments, such as Treasury bills or commercial paper, and earn a return on those investments. While interest rates are currently low, this is still an important source of revenue for Fidelity.
  • Other Services: Fidelity offers a wide range of financial services beyond just trading and investing. These services include wealth management, financial planning, retirement planning, and insurance. Fidelity charges fees for many of these services, which can vary depending on the specific service and the amount of assets being managed or insured.

In addition to these three main revenue streams, Fidelity also generates income from a variety of other sources, including securities lending, foreign exchange trading, and other investment activities. Altogether, these various revenue streams help Fidelity remain profitable and continue to invest in its technology and services to better serve its customers.


While Fidelity may not charge trading fees, the company has multiple revenue streams that allow it to remain one of the largest and most successful financial services companies in the world. These revenue streams include asset management fees, interest income, and fees for other financial services. By offering a variety of services and leveraging its size and expertise, Fidelity is able to continue to grow and innovate in the financial services industry.

Type of Revenue Stream Description
Asset Management Fees Fees charged for managing customer assets, typically based on a percentage of total assets.
Interest Income Earnings from investing customer cash and securities in short-term debt instruments.
Other Services Fees charged for other financial services, such as wealth management, financial planning, and insurance.


The Role of Interest Revenue in Fidelity’s Profits

Fidelity Investments is one of the largest financial services companies in the world, with over $3.3 trillion in assets under management. Surprisingly, Fidelity doesn’t charge any fees for their index funds, which has many investors wondering, how do they make their profits? Aside from the mutual fund fees, Fidelity earns a significant amount of revenue from interest income.

  • Interest on cash balances- Fidelity allows its customers to hold cash balances in their brokerage accounts, which earns interest similar to that of a traditional bank savings account.
  • Margin interest- Fidelity also earns revenue from the interest charged on margin loans. Margin loans are loans extended to a customer for purchasing securities. The customer must pay back the loan with interest.
  • Securities lending- Fidelity generates revenue by loaning securities to other financial institutions or investors. The borrower agrees to repay Fidelity with interest, and Fidelity earns a portion of the interest earned as the lender.

Although interest income isn’t the only source of Fidelity’s profits, it is an essential contributor. According to the company’s 2020 annual report, interest income accounts for over 50% of the company’s investment advisory revenue. As a result, Fidelity’s financial success is highly influenced by its ability to maximize interest revenue.

The company’s focus on interest income has led to the development of unique interest-bearing accounts. Fidelity’s Cash Management account, for example, offers ATM fee reimbursements, checks, and a debit card along with an interest-bearing account. Similarly, Fidelity offers a high-yield savings account that yields a higher rate of interest than a traditional bank savings account.

Year Interest Income Other Revenue Total Revenue
2020 $10.5 billion $8.5 billion $19 billion
2019 $10.6 billion $7.8 billion $18.4 billion
2018 $8.8 billion $8.5 billion $17.3 billion

As seen from the table, Fidelity’s interest income remains relatively consistent year-over-year, emphasizing the importance of interest revenue to their overall profitability.

Fidelity’s Assets Under Management and Management Fees

Fidelity, one of the largest financial services providers in the world, manages over $10 trillion in assets for over 32 million customers. Despite not charging fees, Fidelity does make money through its large assets under management. Here’s how:

  • Management fees – Fidelity charges management fees to customers who invest in its actively managed mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). These fees range from 0.09% to 1.25% of assets under management, depending on the specific fund. Fidelity also charges administrative fees for certain funds that cover various expenses related to running the fund, such as legal and accounting fees.
  • Other fees – In addition to management fees, Fidelity also earns money from other fees such as account and transaction fees. For example, Fidelity charges a $4.95 commission fee per online equity trade and a $49.95 transfer fee for moving funds to another broker.
  • Interest income – Fidelity also earns interest income from the securities it holds on behalf of its customers. The interest rate earned varies depending on the type of security and the prevailing market conditions.

While Fidelity’s lack of account fees may seem like a disadvantage, it has allowed the company to attract a large number of customers and assets under management. By offering a broad range of products and services, Fidelity is able to generate revenue from a variety of sources while providing value to its customers.

Here is a breakdown of Fidelity’s management fees by asset class:

Asset Class Fee Range
Equity 0.09% – 0.75%
Fixed Income 0.09% – 0.50%
Alternative 0.50% – 1.25%

Overall, Fidelity’s vast array of assets under management and varied sources of revenue enable the company to operate efficiently and profitably while providing customers with comprehensive financial services.

Fidelity’s Premium Services for High Net Worth Clients

While Fidelity is known for offering low-cost investment options to its clients, they also have a range of premium services for high net worth individuals that generate significant revenue for the company.

  • Fidelity Wealth Services – This service is available to clients who have at least $250,000 in investable assets. Fidelity charges an annual fee for this service, which includes a dedicated advisor, investment management, and financial planning services.
  • Fidelity Private Wealth Management – This service is for clients with at least $2 million in investable assets and includes a team of private wealth advisors who work with clients to develop a comprehensive financial plan. Fidelity charges a percentage of assets under management for this service.
  • Fidelity Family Office Services – This service is for ultra-high net worth clients with at least $25 million in investable assets. Fidelity provides a range of family office services, including tax and estate planning, philanthropic services, and investment management. Fidelity charges a percentage of assets under management plus additional fees for this service.

These premium services generate significant revenue for Fidelity, as they charge higher fees for the personalized and comprehensive investment and financial planning services. Additionally, by catering to high net worth clients, Fidelity is able to retain a significant amount of assets under management, which further drives revenue for the company.

In addition to these premium services, Fidelity also generates revenue through securities lending, which involves loaning stocks and bonds to other investors in exchange for a fee. Fidelity is a major player in this market and earns a significant amount of revenue through these lending activities.

Revenue Source Amount
Premium Services $2.2 billion in 2019
Securities Lending $850 million in 2019

Overall, while Fidelity is known for its low-cost investment options, the company generates significant revenue through its premium services for high net worth clients and securities lending activities.

The impact of competition in the online trading industry

The online trading industry has become increasingly saturated with competition in recent years. Fidelity, along with other online brokers, has had to adapt to this changing environment in order to stay competitive. While Fidelity does not charge fees for various services, they still make money in a variety of ways. Below are some of the ways that Fidelity, and other online brokers, make money despite the lack of fees.

  • Interest Income – Fidelity earns money by lending out the cash in their clients’ accounts. They earn interest on these loans, which can add up to a significant amount over time.
  • Margin Lending – Fidelity also offers margin lending, which allows clients to borrow money to invest. While there are fees associated with margin lending, Fidelity earns interest on these loans as well.
  • Payment for Order Flow – When clients place trades, Fidelity may route their orders to market makers who pay Fidelity for the right to execute the order. This is known as payment for order flow.

While Fidelity may not charge fees for services like trading and account maintenance, they do have other revenue streams to ensure profitability. In the highly competitive world of online trading, brokers like Fidelity must constantly adapt and innovate in order to stay ahead of the competition.


Despite not charging fees for certain services, Fidelity is still able to earn revenue through a variety of methods. By staying competitive in a crowded industry, Fidelity has been able to adapt and continue providing value to its clients.

FAQs: How Does Fidelity Make Money If They Don’t Charge Fees?

Q: If Fidelity doesn’t charge fees, then how do they make money?

A: Fidelity makes money from the interest that they earn on uninvested cash in their customers’ accounts. They also make money from securities lending, which involves lending out shares from their customers’ accounts to other investors who want to short those stocks.

Q: Does Fidelity offer any services that do have fees?

A: Yes, Fidelity offers financial planning and advisory services that come with fees. These services are completely optional and aren’t required to use Fidelity’s free brokerage services.

Q: Are Fidelity’s investment choices limited by not charging fees?

A: No, Fidelity offers a wide range of investment choices, including mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), stocks, bonds, and more.

Q: Is Fidelity’s customer service affected by not charging fees?

A: No, Fidelity is known for its excellent customer service, regardless of whether or not they charge fees for their brokerage services.

Q: Are there any downsides to using Fidelity’s free brokerage services?

A: The only potential downside is that Fidelity may earn revenue from certain investment products that they offer, which could create conflicts of interest. However, Fidelity is required by law to disclose these conflicts and always acts in the best interest of their customers.

Q: Is Fidelity a safe and trustworthy company to use for investing?

A: Yes, Fidelity is one of the most respected and trusted names in the financial industry. They have been in business for over 75 years and manage over $8 trillion in assets for their customers.

Thanks for Reading and Visit Again Later!

We hope that these FAQs helped answer any questions you might have had about how Fidelity makes money without charging fees. Despite not charging fees, Fidelity remains one of the top brokerage firms in the industry, providing excellent service and a wide range of investment choices. Thanks for reading, and we hope to see you again soon for more helpful information.