People

Ned Johnson III

Ned Johnson III

Formal First Name
Edward (Ned)
Dates
6/29/1930 - present
Location

Ned Johnson is a billionaire investor and businessman who propelled Fidelity, an investment company founded by his father, into becoming the most popular mutual fund family in America. He pioneered several innovative mutual fund practices, including selling direct rather than through brokers, offering discount brokerage services, forming a unit to handle big institutional accounts, and creating dozens of funds that specialize in specific industries or geographic regions. Johnson led Fidelity for 37 years before his daughter Abigail succeeded him in 2014.

Professional Experience


Academic History

EARLY CAREER AT FIDELITY

  • Johnson joined the family business as a stock analyst in 1957 immediately after receiving his Harvard degree. His college roommate said, “He wasn’t a scholar, but he was reading a Wall Street Journal before I even knew what it was.”
  • Keen to be judged on his own merit, he referred to his father as “Mr. Johnson” while at the office.
  • He ran Fidelity’s Trend Fund from 1961 to 1965, which ranked no. 1 among growth funds throughout this period.
  • He was named president of the company in 1972.
  • He became Chairman and Chief Executive in 1977.
  • His daughter Abigail succeeded him in 2014.


TECHNOLOGY

  • Johnson demonstrated great interest in machines early in life. He enjoyed examining them to understand how they functioned. What most fascinated him was the power of computers, and he learned as much as he could about them.
  • Under his leadership, Fidelity invested in new computers and telephone systems, even in 1974, a year when Fidelity assets dropped by a third. These investments positioned Fidelity to better serve its customers in the bull market of the 1980s, using innovations such as toll-free investor services and walk-in investor centers across the United States.
  • He is a frequent visitor to the computer room for updates on new technology and follows stocks and funds from his desktop.
  • He has been known to join telephone representatives so that he can learn from the customers, who are the best source for Fidelity’s ongoing innovations.


CAREER HIGHLIGHTS

  • Johnson is credited with bringing about deep change, not only to Fidelity but also to the industry at large.
  • His innovations include the introduction of check writing on money market funds as well as identifying and entering the enormous market for supplying discount brokerage services to banks, insurance companies, and consumers.