Fidelity picks new chief for its funds business

Fidelity Investments is based in Boston.
Fidelity Investments is based in Boston.Bloomberg

The mutual fund managers and analysts at Fidelity Investments are getting their second new boss in just over a year.

The Boston financial services giant said Tuesday that Steve Neff, head of its asset management division, will retire at the end of March. Neff, 67, started the job in November 2018 after spending most of his 23-year Fidelity career on the technology side of the company.

Neff will be succeeded by Bart Grenier, a top executive at Fidelity International, the company’s independently run affiliate in London. Grenier, 60, has worked extensively in Boston, both at Fidelity and The Boston Co., an investment division of Bank of New York Mellon, where he was chief executive from 2011 to 2017.


Grenier left BNY Mellon to return to the Fidelity fold, first as an executive vice president in Boston and then as the asset management chief at Fidelity International. He will start his new duties in February, with Neff helping with the transition.

Fidelity is a powerhouse in the investment business, with more than 500 funds and nearly $3 trillion in assets, and also operates the nation’s biggest discount brokerage and a large benefits administration division. But the company and others best known for their stock-picking skills have been squeezed by the rise of low-cost index funds, which are designed to track the performance of benchmarks such as the Standard & Poor’s 500.

Abigail Johnson, Fidelity’s chairman and chief executive, called Grenier the “ideal candidate” to take the helm of the asset management business.

“The breadth of his experience across investment strategies and asset classes, as well as his strategic insights and spirit of innovation, makes him well suited to lead Asset Management,” Johnson said in a memo to employees.

Grenier originally joined Fidelity in 1991, and over the next 14 years managed a variety of investment teams, including those focused on fixed income, money markets, and growth stocks. In 2005 he jumped to Deutsche Asset Management, where he served as chief investment officer at its DB Advisors unit.


Fidelity said that during his short stint at the top of the asset management group, Neff has helped define its strategy and adopt new technology, including cloud computing and artificial intelligence. He wasn’t a typical investment unit boss; before taking over the division, Neff had been head of technology and global services since 2013. He had never held a direct investing job.

Johnson said Neff would leave a lasting impact on Fidelity, calling him “a compassionate advocate of diversity and inclusion, skills-based volunteering, and talent development.”

Neff is the executive sponsor of Fidelity’s PRIDE employee resource group, which supports the LGBTA community, according to his LinkedIn profile. He is also a board member of Common Impact, a nonprofit that matches business professionals with other nonprofits, and of St. Francis House, which serves Boston’s homeless population.

You can reach me at larry.edelman@globe.com and follow me on Twitter @GlobeNewsEd.