Fidelity names tech executive Neff to run asset management

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BOSTON (Reuters) – Fidelity Investments on Friday named technology executive Steve Neff to run its big asset management division, a move that shows the growing importance of data systems for fund companies.

Neff, a 22-year Fidelity veteran, replaces Charlie Morrison, whose pending retirement the privately held Boston firm announced in October.

“It’s an opportune time for Steve to lead Asset Management, as technology is becoming increasingly important in our efforts to deliver outstanding investment performance and solutions for our customers,” Fidelity Chief Executive Abigail Johnson wrote in a memo to employees seen by Reuters.

Johnson said Neff will continue to report to her and remain a member of the company’s operating committee. His successor as head of technology and global services will be named soon, she said.

Fidelity had $2.5 trillion in total assets under management as of March 31, according to the company’s website.

In the new role Neff will oversee more than 500 investment professionals running Fidelity’s best-known products like the $120 billion Contrafund.

Lately Fidelity has been aggressively lowering and eliminating fees as it battles industry rivals for cost-conscious clients, a dynamic that has increased the importance of smooth technology operations.

Reporting by Ross Kerber; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall