Fidelity's "record" first quarter funds sales can be attributed to the firm’s commitment to investor communications over the course of the crisis, according to head of wholesale John Clougherty, with the firm anticipating inflow activity in Q2 after a "strong start" in April and May.
Fidelity ranked third by gross retail sales in the first quarter of the year, according to the most recent Pridham Report, bringing in £3.8bn in client capital, while the firm was sixth overall with regard to net retail sales for the quarter, which reached £358m.
The second quarter also looks to have started strongly for Fidelity, which saw £617m of net inflows to its UK-domiciled funds in April alone, making it the second best-selling fund house for the month behind BlackRock, according to the most recent Morningstar fund flows data.
Speaking to Investment Week, Clougherty said: "Unbelievably, Q1 was the best quarter in our history in terms of gross sales.
"Obviously Q1 does not include more than a few weeks of the COVID-19 crisis, but it certainly included some of the most volatile and difficult market conditions in recent years."
"We had 17 [Investment Association] sectors where we had a top ten selling fund and that is right across fixed income, multi asset and equity, and we only have funds in 23 sectors.
"Even in terms of net sales it was our fourth best ever quarter in the UK after some slight outflow in March, we had really, really strong inflows in January and February. So the quarter as a whole was very strongly net positive.
He added that the quarter also marked a record for index fund sales, which he said reached 25% of total sales and was a "fantastic result".
Clougherty said that the Fidelity's sales success could be attributed to both a "flight to quality", with investors allocating to larger firms throughout the market turmoil, in addition to the firm's focus on investor communications efforts amid the ongoing crisis.
Fidelity has been offering video link meetings with fund managers and analysts to investors throughout the crisis, while CIOs and other c-suite staff have also been made available, according to Clougherty, who said March was one of the busiest months for meetings for its sales and investor relations staff despite all meeting taking place online.
Clougherty said: "When things go wrong, you get out there, and I have learned that several times through several crises over the years.
"I saw this as a massive opportunity for us to be really, really visible, and get out there and show people the strength of the brand and the big company.
"We have had a lot of feedback that we've been one of the most visible in terms of access to managers, content and phone calls for example."
Clougherty added that May's fund flows have also "started strongly" for the firm and, as a result he expects another positive quarter in Q2.
He added: "It is difficult to be anything other than really, really optimistic and really pleased. We seem to be faring [well] against the challenge."