Better living through physics

Twenty years ago, Fidelity's Freedom® Funds were introduced as a new way to help 401k investors achieve retirement readiness through greater portfolio diversification. One of the financial industry's first suite of target date funds, the Freedom Funds were designed to reset the asset mix in investors' portfolios – shifting from a more aggressive mix to one that minimizes risk - according to a date selected to align with an investor's anticipated retirement timeline. By the end of 2015, assets in target date mutual funds grew to more than $763 billion1, signaling their popularity since first being introduced.

Ren Cheng, the original Freedom Funds portfolio manager who is also considered the father of target date funds at Fidelity, conceived of the idea based on his interest in Thermodynamic Law and its fundamental principle - conservation of energy. Cheng and his team asked themselves, ‘What can we do to preserve energy in long-term accounts like 401ks and IRAs?' "We landed on the idea of the glide path to automatically re-balance a customer's asset mix over time," said Cheng. This insight led to the creation of Fidelity's Freedom Funds which have grown to include additional target date funds to help investors achieve life milestones, like saving for a college education.

Click to see how Cheng's understanding of basic scientific principles paved the way for millions of Fidelity customers to save for some of their most important life events.

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