Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Fidelity Cha$tity Belt

Related: $lap on the Wrist For InFidelity

Fidelity becomes broker for employee benefits plans

Another pool of corporate money they will be handling.

"Fidelity Charitable fund donations reach record $3.1b" by Sacha Pfeiffer Globe Staff  January 28, 2016

Philanthropic donations made through the charitable-savings arm of Fidelity Investments reached a record $3.1 billion last year, the most given away since the program began in 1991.

The money came from donor-advised funds — Fidelity Charitable calls them “giving accounts” — that are managed by Fidelity and allow people in all income brackets to become miniature philanthropists.

Yeah, we are all in thi$ boat together, right!

When donors contribute to their funds, they receive an immediate tax deduction but face no deadlines on how quickly — if ever — they must give the money away.

I'll try to unlock that below.

Donor-advised funds have become increasingly popular and are now offered by numerous banks and investment firms, as well as by groups such as the Boston Foundation and Combined Jewish Philanthropies.

Not even going to $ay it.

The funds have also become the subject of criticism from detractors who say they contain too much money sitting idle rather than being put to quick charitable use. To remedy that, some critics advocate mandatory payout rules.

I knew that.

“Despite the market downturn this year, our donors continued to show dedication to giving back,” said Fidelity Charitable president Amy Danforth. “Donors who contribute to donor-advised funds irrevocably commit those funds to philanthropy. This makes their ability to give — year in and year out — less sensitive to market fluctuation and provides a source of ongoing support to thousands of charities nationwide.”

Since its inception, Fidelity Charitable, which manages more than 80,000 donor-advised funds, has made more than $21 billion in grants. Last year’s giving rose 18 percent over the previous year.

In addition to cash, Fidelity Charitable donors can contribute stocks, mutual funds, real estate and, as of November, Bitcoin to their accounts. Once donors decide which charities will benefit, Fidelity sends their donations to the selected eligible nonprofits.

Fidelity describes donor-advised funds as a way to “democratize” charitable giving by making it simpler and more accessible. Fidelity Charitable donors, for example, can manage their accounts entirely online....

No worry about hackers, huh?

And am I ever sick of that damnable tag line being thrown out every time they are trying to swindle you out of your loot!


RelatedDonor-advised funds: Where charity goes to wait

Never you mind the $45 billion lying around and being played with; there is over $7 trillion or so lying in banks that wasn't reinvested in anything. Wealthy and corporations just squirreled it away as the economy turns south.

Yeah, if only charities were run like corporations

At lea$t you now know where all the wealth has gone, dear readers.

Time to put this post in the vault:

"Powerful business group keeps low profile in Boston" by Jon Chesto Globe Staff  January 12, 2016

They meet in secret several times a year, in a nondescript conference room 13 stories above the din of Boylston Street.

The cost of a seat at the table? $100,000 annually.

But the steep membership fee isn’t what makes this club so exclusive. To join, you also need to run — or have run — one of the biggest companies in the state.

The Massachusetts Competitive Partnership is the state’s most powerful business group, a who’s who of Greater Boston’s corporate elite, with top executives from Fidelity, Bank of America, Vertex, and the Patriots, among others.

The partnership’s hallmark is its privacy. Most people have no idea it even exists. The group usually steers clear of the news. Its 15 members — all but one of them white males — don’t hold the networking breakfasts or rubber-chicken dinners that are the staples of Boston’s other business associations.

It has regularly been dubbed “the New Vault,” a nod to the now-defunct crew of chief executives who plotted Boston’s future a generation ago, a storied group whose cast of characters were so powerful that they were considered a shadow government at one point.

Like the Vault, the Partnership has used its influence to sway major policy decisions. For example, the group helped bring international flights to Logan Airport and worked to block the offshore Cape Wind project. But it splintered on last year’s effort to bring the Olympics to Boston.

Six years after the group was formed, questions remain as to whether it can ever be as successful as the Vault, or whether the industries that make up the economy here have simply become too diverse and too global for one group to wield that much influence.

“They can get people to pay attention, but it’s not clear they can dictate the outcomes,” David Luberoff, the project adviser to Harvard University’s Boston Area Research Initiative, said of the partnership. “The economic landscape is much more fragmented than it was for the Vault.”

But while there’s some grumbling, it’s hard to find anyone who will publicly criticize the partnership or its concentration of corporate power. Few want to risk alienating some of the most well-connected people in the city — and other observers are still wondering if the partnership can reach its full potential.

“If you put together 15 superheroes and make a team of them, and set them out to accomplish something, it has to be something big,” said Ralph Whitehead, a journalism professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a confidant of Senate President Stan Rosenberg. 

JU$TU$ League!

So what is that something big?

Former Raytheon Co. CEO Bill Swanson, the partnership’s chairman, and Dan O’Connell, its chief executive, would say that kind of question misses the point. They’re not the Vault.

The partnership members aren’t looking for a home run — more like a series of singles and doubles aimed at steadily improving the state’s economic health. Swanson points to last week’s unveiling of a digital health initiative, a rare public event for the group, as an example. Vertex Pharmaceuticals’ chief executive, Jeffrey Leiden, a partnership member, said the effort was born out of a goal to use the state’s strengths in life sciences to foster a growing aspect of the tech industry.

That focus on statewide economic development underscores the crucial difference between the partnership and the Vault, whose members’ focus rarely drifted beyond Boston city limits. But it is still helpful to look back at the Vault to understand what an elite business group can accomplish.

Formally known as the Coordinating Committee, the original group was launched in 1959 to help revive Boston’s fortunes as the city flirted with bankruptcy. Bankers dominated the room, but other types of corporate names were represented: Filene’s, Liberty Mutual, Jordan Marsh. The group worked with then-mayor John Collins to help the city avoid receivership. It soon had authority to influence policy within City Hall, helping Collins realize his ambitious urban renewal agenda.

At the time, Boston’s economy was largely contained within the confines of the newly built Route 128. Local banks held the city’s bonds and as such were major lenders to the city. There was a vested interest in getting things done.

But waves of corporate mergers had weakened the group by the 1990s, as out-of-state giants gobbled up some of Boston’s biggest companies. Boston increasingly felt like another branch town.

Suddenly, many of the people calling the shots were in other cities, not here. The Vault became an anachronism and unceremoniously shut its doors for good in 1997.

Flash forward more than a decade. Massachusetts was finding its way through the Great Recession, when a small group of local executives worried about the state’s competitiveness started talking about creating a modern-day equivalent of the Vault.

Of the old Vault’s members, only Eversource Energy CEO Thomas May and longtime banker Chad Gifford became part of the new lineup during the partnership’s official start in 2010 — and Gifford would soon be replaced by protege Brian Moynihan, Bank of America’s chief executive.

He just pulled in a cool $16 million; I would be smiling, too.

Bankers and lawyers no longer dominated the room, as they did in the Vault. Many of the executives at the table ran national or global companies, but as with the old Vault, white men still call most of the shots. Fidelity Investments’ Abigail Johnson is the only woman on the board, and there are no minorities. O’Connell said the group is considering ways to diversify the membership, possibly by adding seats.

They are all, however, members of Bo$ton's power elite and the true power brokers that control the politicians on Beacon Hill and at City Hall.

In its first few years, the partnership worked quietly by lobbying on Beacon Hill for initiatives such as curbing state retirement costs and reforming the community college system. None of these efforts, though, were as memorable as the Vault’s biggest projects had been, but about two years ago, construction magnate John Fish, the partnership’s first chairman, floated the idea of a Boston-hosted Olympics....

I'm not going to waste time getting back into that; let's just thank God they are not coming here.


Also see:

Elite business group needs to add diversity

Skirting the old-boy network, updated

Women may not reach boardroom parity for decades, report says

Board With the Bo$ton Globe

Here is a TUGG in the right direction:

"Boston Chamber looks to build ties to innovation community" by Jon Chesto Globe Staff  January 12, 2016

The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce is one of the most influential business groups in the state, but it has largely missed out on one of the fastest-growing segments of the local economy: the startup and venture capital communities.

Jim Rooney is about to find out whether he can bridge that gap.

During his first year as the chamber’s chief executive, Rooney has made a point of reaching out to the innovation sector. And on Tuesday, Rooney took the boldest step yet to prove that this chamber of commerce is not stuck in the past: hiring 30-year-old tech executive David Brown to serve as vice president of innovation leadership, a new position.

Brown learned his way around Boston’s startup space during his nearly three years as executive director of TUGG (Technology Underwriting Greater Good), a local nonprofit that fosters social entrepreneurship. He left that gig in February to run strategic partnerships at ZappRx, a venture-backed health information technology firm, and then he set out on his own later in the year to develop two startups.

“We’re in a period of rapid change in which new entrepreneurial innovative startup companies are happening all around us, in all industries,” Rooney said. “The chamber needs to be better connected to that phenomenon. To do that, I felt I needed someone with a high degree of connectedness to that ecosystem, and David brings that to the table.”

Rooney, the former chief of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, said he recognizes he’s got a solid network within the city’s established employers and its political power brokers. But that’s not necessarily the case in the startup community. Brown, he said, has those connections. Next up, Rooney wants to bring on a new innovation and inclusion director, to encourage greater participation of women, minorities, and young professionals.

Rooney said he knew he wanted to better integrate the chamber with the startup world, even before he accepted the job last March.

At the time, another finalist for the chamber chief executive position was C.A. Webb. She was seen by many as the startup community’s preferred choice. Webb was then the executive director of the New England Venture Capital Association but left to help launch a venture capital firm, Assemble.VC.

By creating an innovation position, Rooney is looking to court such people as Steve O’Leary, managing director at Aeris Partners, a local mergers and acquisition advisory firm. O’Leary, a trustee with the Mass Technology Leadership Council, said the Boston chamber isn’t regularly on his radar screen. But he thinks creating this innovation job is a smart step toward better connecting the city’s longtime corporate leaders with its innovation economy.

“That’s just where the growth is today,” O’Leary said. “To have someone who can shine a light on what’s going on in innovation and how that impacts each of these companies and how they can engage to develop innovation components within their business, I think it’s all to the good.”

Brown first considered the job after Jordan Fliegel, president of Boston-based CoachUp, mentioned it to him last fall. Brown said he decided to step away from the day-to-day work on two social enterprise startups to pursue the chamber job.

The chamber offers networking opportunities, leadership training, and public policy advocacy. Now, Brown will try to figure out how to deliver those services in a meaningful way to entrepreneurs and startups who haven’t felt included in the past.

“It hasn’t had the relevancy to the startup community for a while now,” Brown said. “We have some work to do in terms of proving our authenticity. But all the steps that Jim has taken so far are really good indicators that we mean what we’re saying.”


UPDATE: Does Boston have too many nonprofits?

What are they trying to do? Eliminate all the tax shelters and take away all the luncheons at the Convention Center or Plaza?