FIDELITY GIFT FUND HAS RECORD YEARThe Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund reported its largest grant-making year in history, as overall grants to charity surpassed $950 million in 2006, up 13 percent from 2005. Since its inception in 1991, the Gift Fund has granted more than $6.5 billion to over 103,000 nonprofit organizations nationwide, as of Dec. 31, 2006.

The Fidelity Gift Fund, which has the largest donor-advised fund program in the U.S., also attracted record contributions of nearly $1.3 billion in 2006, up approximately 23 percent year over year. Donations of securities accounted for more than 66 percent of all contributions to the Gift Fund in 2006.

Helping fuel its growth - which included over 4,700 new giving accounts, a near 80 percent rise over the previous year - the fund introduced several enhancements to its program, including the reduction of its giving account minimum from $10,000 to $5,000. The Gift Fund's lower minimum is helping to attract younger donors, as the average age of an individual who established a new giving account in the $5,000 to $10,000 range was 53, compared to nearly 63 years of age for the Gift Fund's overall base of donors, Fidelity said.

ADVISORY FIRMS HANDCUFFED BY INEFFECTIVE ORGANIZATION

According to a pair of reports published by Schwab Institutional, independent investment advisory firms are growing at triple the rate of other financial firms, but many continue to be constrained by ineffective organizational structures and imprecise development efforts.

Achieving Growth with the Right Business Development Structure highlights three common models and helps advisors evaluate and implement the most appropriate one for their firm, while Building an Effective Organizational Structure offers advisors insights on how to determine the best operational structure for getting work done. Both reports were developed in conjunction with CPA and business advisory firm Moss Adams.

For more, visit www.schwab.com.

NASD APPROVES CHANGES TO MERGER BYLAWS

Members of securities regulator NASD have approved bylaw changes necessary to combine regulatory functions with the New York Stock Exchange Group and form one organization to oversee U.S. securities brokers and dealers.

Consolidating the self-regulatory functions of the NASD, formerly known as the National Association of Securities Dealers, and the NYSE into one entity will help end duplication, reduce costs and make U.S. markets more competitive, the NASD said. The new organization, as yet unnamed, will become the single regulator for the country's nearly 5,100 broker/dealers that had been part of the NASD. About 200 of those firms also are members of the NYSE.

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