Thread regarding Fidelity Investments layoffs

For Those Struggling With Their VBO Decision - Part 2 of 2.

How did it turn out for me? Well, I turned the offer down on March 27th 2017. I was at the zenith of my career at Fidelity. I was a senior manager with a team of 50+ people. I had an E rating, highest bonus ever, largest raise ever, etc., I just barely qualified in terms of age (the offer arrived as I was blowing out the 55 birthday candles on my cake) and had all the silly worries about long-term security, I had a child in 7th grade, etc. I ran the numbers with experts that clearly demonstrated I was more than fine for the next 35 years. I spoke to trusted colleagues hoping one of them would kick my behind and tell me what to do. I did not speak to the person I trusted the most at Fidelity – my manager at the time. As managers, we were instructed not to influence and I did not want to place him in that position. I should have broken that rule because I know he would have set me straight and helped me to click accept. He is that type of person. I agonized needlessly when I should have been celebrating.

I hugged and backslapped my friends leaving in June of 2017 and that was hard. The team I ran had a difficult summer in terms of product stability and there were mistakes made that I own. If I shared the details here, you would think I was making it up. By September my brand had spoiled. I spent the next two years on some, please don’t make me say it, ok – special projects. There – are you happy? By December of 2019, I was at the end of the journey and stepped out and into the teeth of a global pandemic. So, I turned it down in 2017 and missed it by a year here. This is why you need to watch the Seinfeld episode. Timing is everything.

I am so grateful for my nearly 30-year career at the firm. What an amazing entity. The projects I was entrusted with, the tremendous people I got to work with and the business units I was able to serve are such a gift. I came to the firm living paycheck to paycheck, before employees had PCs, voicemail or Local Area Networks. We ran on phone tag and interoffice mail. I had an employee number starting with A-Zero and wore that number with pride. I had the opportunity to work in the city I love and travel the world on behalf of the firm. I worked for amazing and supportive leaders who were nothing short of great to me. I had people that I coached that inspired me and made me look good. I was fortunate to work on, contribute to, and experience the transformation to a fully digitized powerhouse run by an incredibly smart and bold leader who drives the competition crazy with the scale and customer focus that she has constructed over the past decade. Look at this offer. Not only is it generous it is bold. The firm is telling you, and many of its most senior leaders and talented tenured associates, very nicely that its leader has a plan to further transform the firm that requires some room for the next generation to grow. The firm respects you, appreciates you and thanks you for your contribution. Take the offer. Your home has soared in value. Your portfolio has soared over the past several years. You will not get another opportunity to feel this good about yourself and the firm.

Best of luck on your decision and, I hope for you, your next chapter. At least click accept and wear the VBO jacket for a few months to see how it fits.

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Post ID: @OP+19QclETq

18 replies (most recent on top)

I didn't take the 2017 VBO. I stayed in until they “revamped” my group and we all were laid off in 2019, the majority of us in our 50’s. The package was the regular see you later, nothing special– last day 10/31 and we didn't get the profit–sharing at all. I agree that it takes months to adjust but those nightmares do go away. The stress is gone and you will find a way. Enjoy your life, you only get one.

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Post ID: @Cvpb+19QclETq

Take the offer (late 40s). (Did they offer the vbo to ppl under 50? When i was there the cutoff was 55, but it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if they lowered that) Look, sadly at this pt you already have a target on u..but trust me, that target becomes more pronounced when that 4 in your age becomes a 5. Happened to me. Excellent employee, great ratings. Laid off within 10 mos of turning 50. Cut with 20+ others...average age of the group cut was 50. Take the deal.

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Post ID: @cfbv+19QclETq

I, too, took the VBO in 2017. I was not emotionally ready but financially it was feasible. It took about 3 months to stop having those Fido nightmares. You know the one where you wake up in the wee hours thinking you missed a deadline, messed up a presentation or worse?

I was a consistent E rated employee for 30+years. Buy I lost advocacy a long the way due to advocates leaving, new blood with no value for what our history was. I could see the writing on the wall. You are only as good as your last big accompaniment and visibility.

I was fortunate and cursed to be extended. I left after my friends were gone and in the dead of winter. In retrospect, I should have left June 30. During that last 6 months, I did see people who did not take the VBO get riff'd. The last 6 months were very dark for me but confirmed my decision to leave.

It is scary not to have a paycheck and worse not to have a Christmas bonus but I am getting used to it. The healthcare cost has gone up but not hatefully. I did drop the dental. $600 a year for $2000 of possible coverage seemed too rich.

Some advice: if you take the package, max out your 401k contributions NOW. Pretax to offset your tax bill from the package. The $3k annual retirement healthcare contribution stops earning interest upon your retirement. Get your password set up when the money moves. (I think you must be 55 to access but I am unsure).

What have I learned since leaving?

  1. Getting a job is hard and I have pretty much given up.
  2. I thought I knew pretty much everything about retirement financials. Not true. The 4% rule of retirement spending is not great if you are retiring early. Lots of research about it. Some friends are over 5%, some are less than 3%.
  3. Sequence of risk: understand this risk, which is greatest just before and after retiring.
  4. A friend who left Fido told me Sundays are totally awesome since retiring. He was right. No stressing about the Monday onslaught. Great tv and no need to get up early on Monday.
  5. A huge part of my identity was wrapped up in Fidelity. I thought it was who I am. It has taken a couple of years to realize Fidelity is not who I am but what I did for a living.

And finally, do I miss it? Sometimes. I miss the people but not the stress. I miss the feeling of reaching a goal or overcoming obstacles.

But then again, pickleball is pretty challenging.

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Post ID: @cntc+19QclETq

Great post. I did my take the 2017 VBO. In 2019 my tram was eliminated, the package was not what is being offered for the VBO. Take the package and live. Life is good!

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Post ID: @bkni+19QclETq

As a Director just shy of 20 years, I was not blown away by the severance of less than 10 months. The added bonuses are interesting but would not equal year end bonus and full share payout (assuming I make it through the year). I am cognizant that my growth prospects are diminished due to where I fall in terms of demographics. But that will the case on the outside as well. Searching for a job from Zoom does not sound at all appealing. Still not sure what I’m going to do but I’m leaning toward declining the offer.

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Post ID: @btuh+19QclETq

https://www.thinkadvisor.com/2021/03/23/rep-waters-probes-blackrock-fidelity-other-asset-managers-on-diversity-and-inclusion

  • and remember, according to this, Fidelity is a diverse-owned business
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Post ID: @awho+19QclETq

The poster referencing the D&I numbers is accurate, its probably the driving force around the VBO The D&I Report published before the VBO was publicly offered, summarized the current workforce by race as 'White or Other', then separated identifying gender by Male or Female. If you are not White or Identifying as Male, you are considered an "under represented demographic' at the firm. They offered the VBO to anyone with tenure of 10 yrs plus age (should equal 70 or more) without regard to demographic or gender. That being said, if you are a white male with tenure to get the VBO, your opportunities for advancement outside your current role is limited with the current directive around divers hiring. Any hiring manger inside can confirm but would not publicly say so. Its unlikely they would layoff VBOs that do not take the offer even though its always a possibility. It is likely that if you not under-represented and dont take the VBO, you wont have much career movement after.

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Post ID: @8qhe+19QclETq

I believe they had many reasons for doing this, but I think a large part of the reason is to influence the D&I numbers dramatically over a short period of time. Did anyone notice D&I did not get the offer? That's because they need them all right now. They produced their report, shortly after introduced the VBO, and maybe by year end they'll produce a new report (which by the way I'm not positive, but was told did not include age stats) and then say look at what we managed do to in such a short period of time and how great are we!! If this is truly the case there really may not be another VBO in the timeframe I want one so I'm taking this.

That's all fine. I still agree with all the positive comments made about Fidelity. I wouldn't trade my time there for anything. I've learned a lot about myself and the business. It's been a good experience, but after being there half my life I'm so ready for something new and I'm very grateful for being given the opportunity to try something new!!

I also want to thank the original poster and all the others weighing in. I get why they don't want us talking about it, but you kind of need to be able to talk to people who are in the same boat and who have already sailed this trip! Alcoholics don't share their experience with non alcoholics!! You need people facing or who have faced this experience before to talk to.

Life after Fidelity. I hope it's as wonderful as I imagine!

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Post ID: @7qcm+19QclETq

I was a high performer, then mgmt change, and forced out. I think my boss was getting rewarded for forcing out older white males. Sad thing if you think about it the gen x workforce got a really raw deal from this firm. The boomers never left, and when they started to leave it was all about promoting the millennials in their place.

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Post ID: @6nab+19QclETq

For those on the fence, if would stay because you really like your manager or your team, that can be out of your control and can all change quickly. All it takes is a "shake-up" and next thing you know you have a new manager playing the bad cop. 50+ year old ex-Fido white guy with many years of good performance reviews speaking from experience....

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Post ID: @5npz+19QclETq

This VBO is better than the 2017 version. The health care continuation is better. There’s a reason for that. They really want and need people to move on. Don’t be fooled by all of the hiring. That is on the front lines because of all the new, semi profitable clients. On the back end there is a need to really reduce expenses. The pressure is greater than it was four years ago. If you are a VP with just a couple of directs (or no direct reports) and have a 20 year or more career here definitely think long and hard about taking Fido up on the more than generous offer. If you are in a non client facing position in general...this opportunity is probably very worth considering. 6700 colleagues received this offer. I would be shocked if 4000 don’t take it.

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Post ID: @4pld+19QclETq

Very good post, part 1 & part 2!! I've been struggling, even though I know it's the right move to take the VBO. After reading your post, I need to feel excited, celebrate and take the package with my head up high!!! Thank you!

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Post ID: @4nql+19QclETq

I see a bit of a math problem with the whole discussion about 18 to 24 months. Us worker bees get only 2 weeks per every year served. To arrive at 18 to 24 months paid, you'd have to have 36 to 48 years of service. I heard VPs might be getting up to 4 weeks per year served, so I can see them getting 18 to 24 months (still requires 18 to 24 years of service ). Has anyone posting here looked at the time being offered? And one more thing - you do understand that accepting VBO prohibits you from applying for unemployment?

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Post ID: @3clh+19QclETq

Adding to this thread - I took the VBO, and it was clearly the right decision. The original poster on this thread has laid out the issues very clearly.

After leaving I had to deal with some family health issues. I was able to be there 110% for that.

My stress level fell 80%. I sleep and eat better than any time during my years at Fidelity.

Financially, my "plan" was to leave right about now. This screwed up my plan. That's my problem and not Fidelity's problem. They can take the business where they want. Every once in a while I say to myself that this wasn't fair. Life isn't - get over it.

I don't know how generous this package is, but you will likely have more than you will need to either retire or move on to something else. Long tenured Fidelity employees are in high demand and very well respected. Wear it as the badge off honor that it is.

And congratulate yourselves for 10, 15, 20 or 25 years well done. And get out and enjoy the summer. You deserve it.

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Post ID: @2ffh+19QclETq

Room for the next generation to grow...so ageism.

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Post ID: @2lcm+19QclETq

This is a great two part post.

The terrain might very well change a great deal after the VBO. All your friends and allies might be gone. Then, what? Depending on where you are, you might very well be in a spot where you are, in effect, starting over.

If you've been with the company for 20...25 years, then you should have a very nice total savings package.

People did get RIF'd after the last VBO. If possible, check this very board for that timeframe. A lot of people regretted not taking the generous offer.

And, it is a generous offer. Most companies aren't like Fidelity.

Fidelity has a way of doing things. One of them is that when it's your time to go, then you go. They usually signal like crazy for valuable workers who've been with them awhile. Have they trained out your responsibilities? If you are a Director, or higher, have they created an 'understudy' position?

You have to be smart and realize that Fidelity is going to do just fine without you, and you have to accept their generous offer. When it's time to go, they will eventually push you out after giving you all kinds of 'signals' that it is time for you to move on.

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Post ID: @2xcz+19QclETq

Appreciate hearing about your experience. Two follow up questions. Would you recommend the same advice to someone in their mid/late 40s who wishes to continue their career? Also, I wasn't clear whether you received a severance in Dec '19 and if so whether it was one week or two week's pay per year of service.

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Post ID: @hmx+19QclETq

A question if you're comfortable answering...are you male, female, or other? There are different concerns or future prospects for each group. Thank you.

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Post ID: @vbc+19QclETq

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