The 2013 Tech 50: Stephen Neff

Fidelity does not pursue ‘technology for technology’s sake’ and maintains ‘a culture of innovation that I call managed risk-taking,’ says the Fidelity CTO.



Stephen Neff
Enterprise Chief Technology Officer
Fidelity Investments

Fidelity Investments’ singular goal is “to deliver the best customer experience” for the more than 20 million individuals and institutions it serves, asserts Stephen Neff, the Boston-based firm’s enterprise CTO since January. No one is better placed to understand and influence how that experience “will be radically different in the future because of changing technologies” than the 61-year-old Neff, whose firm manages $1.7 trillion in assets. For example, as legions of Facebook users are introduced to, explains Neff, “if we don’t service them well on a mobile platform, we’ll lose them. But if we do it well, we’ll grow our business.” To keep pace with and even shape that emerging future, few financial companies can match the resources of Fidelity: more than 12,000 tech workers worldwide, a brain trust of 12 chief information officers aligned with key business units and geographies, and a Center for Applied Technology doing forward-looking R&D. Having taken on responsibilities that formerly fell under president of corporate operations Stephen Scullen III (No. 2 last year), Neff is executing a four-pronged vision that he helped define while serving as senior technology consultant in 2010–’12: operational excellence, applied innovation, world-class engineering and human capital. Stressing its customer focus, Fidelity does not pursue “technology for technology’s sake” and maintains “a culture of innovation that I call managed risk-taking,” says Neff, who joined in 1996 after 22 years with IBM Corp. and Salomon Brothers.

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