Fidelity relies on a diverse set of technologies, represented by mainframes, distributed computing, Web and mobile. As a sign of coordinating technology usage across the enterprise, Fidelity is gravitating toward a more standardized approach to the way it delivers applications and service to its clients. "Most of that relies on open platforms, on Linux as a foundation and software-as-as-service and data-as-a-service," Neff says.
Also, Fidelity is investing in virtual desktops so that the user's desktop sits on a server in a compute environment that has high resiliency and availability. "You're able to get to that desktop from a variety of places and devices, which could be your laptop, from a windowing device into a hosted virtual environment, from your iPad, and in some cases it could be from a PC that's in your house," says Neff.
One of Fidelity's nontechnical priorities is investing in the next generation of technologists. To recruit talent, Fidelity's runs the Leap program, which is based on hiring associates from universities across the U.S., Ireland and India. Through Leap, associates start their career with an intensive training program where they rotate into different business lines.
Not only do the Leap associates give Fidelity a steady flow of new team members, but the program helps the company stay on top of the latest trends. "They'll spend six months in Raleigh and they get introduced to a lot of technology topics," says Neff. They spend time in Fidelity businesses and eventually go into a business line. Over the past five years, Fidelity has brought in 700 associates. Neff says the program has been "enormously successful and has a high retention rate." It's also a way for Fidelity to learn from millennials. "These are the individuals who know about social, mobility, personalization and gamification -- all the things that are ultimately going to change the way customers do business with us."
Enterprise CTO, Fidelity Investments
Career Bio: Prior to joining Fidelity in 1996, Neff worked for Salomon Brothers. Neff started his career with IBM in 1974, where he held several systems engineering and technology management positions through 1987, supporting the financial services industry and IBM's marketing and services divisions.
Education: Bachelor of Arts degree in math from Rutgers College in 1974.
Who had the biggest influence on your career? "I had a mentor in Salomon Brothers who was really instrumental in helping me make a career decision in moving over to London. I was an infrastructure manager. He ran all the European business technology and was looking for someone to come over and consolidate a number of application development teams. It was probably one of the single most important career moves to shift from infrastructure over to application development and to work in another part of the world."
What is the next big thing? "We think that mobile as a concept changes the way that our clients do business with us in a very profound way. "
What is one of your hobbies? "I've taken up cycling and I ride quite a bit. Every year, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute sponsors the Pan-Mass Challenge for cancer research. It's a two-day cycling event that goes about 160 miles from west of Boston to the tip of the Cape. I've done that for four years and I've really gotten into cycling as a passion."
[To learn more about new opportunities in mobility in financial services, check out the agenda for the New Opportunities for Mobility: A Financial CIO/CTO Roundtablesession at the upcoming Interop event in NYC.]