Fidelity Freedom Gets CIO

Fidelity Investments has tapped Ren Y. Cheng as chief investment officer (CIO) of its fast-growing life-cycle and asset-allocation funds, overseeing $130 billion in assets.

Cheng was previously a portfolio manager of Fidelity’s “Freedom” life-cycle funds, and he was also the head of the life-cycle funds group – but without the CIO designation.

“The position of CIO is a new one, and with Ren no longer involved in the day-to-day management of the Freedom funds, this will allow him to focus on the strategic direction of the group as well as to develop new investment talent,” Fidelity spokesman Alexi Maravel said, according to Reuters. Fidelity, which first launched life-cycle funds in 1996, now has assets of about $75 billion and more than 3 million investors in these funds.

After his promotion to CIO, Cheng continues to manage 12 portfolio managers and analysts. Christopher L. Sharpe has been named co – manager of the Fidelity Freedom Funds and Fidelity Advisor Freedom Funds, succeeding Cheng, according to a press release.

“Succession” Plans

Sharpe will co–manage the Freedom and Advisor Freedom Funds with current co–manager Jonathan A. Shelon. Shelon has been named co–manager, with current co–manager Sharpe, of the VIP Freedom Portfolios, VIP Investor Freedom Portfolios, and VIP Freedom Lifetime Income Portfolios, also succeeding Cheng. According to a press release, Sharpe will continue to co–manage with Shelon all the Fidelity–managed 529 plans, for which they assumed responsibilities in 2005 for the states of Arizona, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Delaware, and in 2006 for the state of California. Sharpe also will remain co–manager of Fidelity Four–in–One Index Fund and certain funds available exclusively to Canadian investors.

Sharpe joined Fidelity in 2002 as an asset allocation director in the Structured Investment Group. In that role, he was responsible for constructing and managing risk–controlled portfolios for institutional clients. Sharpe began co–managing the VIP Freedom Portfolios in 2005. Prior to joining Fidelity, he was an investment policy officer in the Investment Strategy Group with John Hancock Financial Services, Inc. From 1990 to 2000, Sharpe was a consultant and investment actuary with Mercer Human Resources Consulting, Inc., in Boston, with responsibility for retirement and investment consulting for plan sponsors on defined benefit and defined contribution plans.

Shelon joined Fidelity in 2001 as an institutional portfolio manager. He began co–managing the Fidelity Advisor Freedom Funds in 2003 and the Fidelity Freedom Funds in 2005. Prior to joining Fidelity, Shelon was a quantitative consultant in the Capital Markets Research Group of Callan Associates, Inc., an investment consulting firm. In that role, he developed strategic investment plans for institutional clients including pension plans, foundations, endowments, and insurance companies. From 1993 to 1998, Shelon was an associate actuary with Milliman U.S.A.