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Vanguard Topping Fidelity Shows Shift to Independent Advisers

David O’Brien, a 46-year-old financial adviser in the Richmond, Virginia, suburb of Midlothian, has made Vanguard Group Inc. the world’s largest mutual-fund manager. Just not by himself.

O’Brien visits clients at their homes and, at kitchen tables and on front porches, counsels them on how best to invest their savings. Almost half of the $17 million he oversees has landed in mutual funds and exchange-traded funds sold by Valley Forge, Pennsylvania-based Vanguard, the company that pioneered low-cost index investing for individuals in the mid-1970s.