NEW YORK, April 24 (Reuters) - Fidelity Investments and BlackRock Inc, already partners in the exchange-traded funds market, are teaming up once again to launch a new ETF-heavy managed account aimed at providing income for investors preparing for retirement.
The new BlackRock Diversified Income Portfolio, which will be roughly 70 percent invested in ETFs, will be available beginning May 1 exclusively to the roughly 14 million retail customers who have Fidelity brokerage accounts, the company said on Thursday.
Under the arrangement with BlackRock, the world's largest money manager and a leader in the $2.4 trillion global ETF industry, Fidelity, the second largest U.S. mutual fund firm, will serve as the investment adviser to the managed account.
The new offering propels Fidelity into the fast-growing ETF managed account universe, which totaled around $96 billion in assets at the end of December, according to a tally of managed portfolio strategies tracked by research firm Morningstar. Morningstar defines ETF-managed portfolios as those with at least 50 percent of its assets invested ETFs.
Fidelity's new managed account also expands the role of ETFs as investments used in preparing individuals for retirement.
"We have millions of customers in the pre-retiree category concerned about retirement income and making that money last through retirement," said Kathy Murphy, president of Fidelity Personal Investing, in an interview. "We think it will be very helpful to that specific segment of the market."
A managed account is a fee-based investment. Annual advisory fees on the new Fidelity managed account will be between 0.55 percent and 1.1 percent of total assets invested, depending on the size of the investment.
The bulk of the new portfolio will be invested in iShares ETFs, with the rest in mutual funds, Master Limited Partnerships and other investment vehicles. It will have a "go-anywhere" mandate allowing the manager to stuff it with a variety of assets from around the world.
Fidelity currently has about $158 billion in total assets under management in its managed accounts business, largely in mutual funds and other investments.
BlackRock will serve as the portfolio strategist for the new managed account, overseeing asset allocation, with Fidelity as the investment adviser for its customers' individual accounts. It is the latest ETF collaboration from the two firms, which first partnered in 2010 when Fidelity began offering BlackRock's iShares ETFs commission-free on its platform, and have been expanding their ETF relationship in recent years.
Fidelity last year increased the number of BlackRock iShares ETFs offered on its platform to 65 from 30, and introduced its first full slate of sector ETFs in October with BlackRock as its sub-adviser.
The partnership allows Fidelity to further expand into the $1.7 trillion U.S. ETF market and gives BlackRock access to Fidelity's vast distribution platform.
Since Fidelity increased its iShares offering last year, investments in the iShares ETFs on its platform increased 86 percent from the year prior, with the number of Fidelity accounts holding iShares ETFs up 16 percent, the company said. (Reporting by Ashley Lau in New York; Editing by Linda Stern and Lisa Shumaker)