Former Fidelity CEO Edward ‘Ned’ Johnson dies at 91

NEW YORK (AP) — Edward “Ned” Johnson III, a businessman who made Fidelity Investments the financial giant it is today, has died. He was 91 years old.

Johnson’s family confirmed on Thursday that he died on Wednesday but did not give a cause of death.

Born in Boston at the start of the Great Depression, Johnson joined his father’s company in 1957 as a portfolio manager. He became president of Fidelity in 1972 and, after his father’s retirement in 1976, became chairman and chief executive officer.

While his father founded Fidelity, Johnson’s four decades in office transformed the company into the Wall Street and investment giant it is today.

“We are immensely proud of his accomplishments and grateful for his life,” the Johnson family said in a statement. “He was a visionary, innovator and philanthropist who had an immense curiosity about the world around him and lived life to the fullest every day.”

When Johnson took over, the way Americans saved and planned for retirement was about to fundamentally change. Companies have started to move away from pension plans. The Individual Retirement Account, better known as an IRA, was created in 1974. The 401(k) account, an employer-sponsored retirement plan that invested in stocks and bonds but was ultimately managed by the individual employee, was created by Congress in 1978. .

Fidelity benefited from a massive expansion and interest in investing that began in the 1980s. The stock market was no longer just for the wealthy; it was now a vehicle in which nearly every retirement account in the United States had a stake. Under Johnson, Fidelity began selling mutual funds directly to the public. The company also started offering discount brokerage services which made stock investing much cheaper.

These efforts have paid off. When Johnson took over Fidelity in 1977, the company had $3.9 billion in assets under management. When he retired as chairman in 2014, Fidelity had $5.7 trillion in assets under management. Fidelity’s growth made Johnson and his family billionaires.

The Boston-based company, which is still privately owned, is now run by Johnson’s daughter, Abigail Johnson.

Johnson is survived by his wife, Elizabeth “Lillie” Johnson, and three children: Abigail, Elizabeth Johnson and Edward Johnson IV.

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