You don’t build a company such as Fidelity Investments, with more than $2 trillion in assets, overnight. It takes constant focus and improvement, day by day, or kaizen—a Japanese philosophy of daily improvement espoused by former chairman Edward C. “Ned” Johnson III.
When I worked at Fidelity, back in the mid-90s, Mr. Johnson encouraged us, through his memos, to apply the philosophy of kaizen to all aspects of our lives.
Mr. Johnson paid particular attention to kaizen as it related to the firm’s investment in technology. He wanted to make sure Fidelity was second to none.
That philosophy of kaizen, and the focus on technology continues today at Fidelity. Now run by Mr. Johnson’s daughter Abigail “Abby” Johnson, she recently appointed Steve Neff as the new head of its asset management business.
Mr. Neff, a 22-year veteran of the firm, with a background in technology, was the chief information officer of the asset management business until 2009, and since 2013 the head of technology and global services.
It’s no surprise to me that Fidelity has chosen someone who has proven his success by climbing the ranks of the firm with a background in technology.
“Throughout Fidelity’s history, our most successful and impactful leaders have often been those who have assumed different roles in various parts of the firm,” Ms. Johnson wrote. “Diversity of experience is something I have always valued because of the unique competitive advantages and interconnectedness of Fidelity’s businesses.”
P.S. When he retired, I wrote this about Ned Johnson:
Yesterday, Edward “Ned” Johnson announced he is stepping down as Chairman of Fidelity Investments. What I remember most from my time working at Fidelity Investments circa 1995 is how Mr. Johnson’s imprint on the company, and his desire to run it like a small family business, were felt by all 30,000 of us.
Dick Young’s relationship with Johnson goes back to circa 1971. He wrote in the February of 2013 issue of Intelligence Report, “I have done business with the Boston-based Fidelity Funds since the early seventies, when the iconoclastic J. Stewart Harvey was director of research. And I first did business with Fidelity back in 1971.”
Thank you Mr. Johnson.