Edward "Ned" C. Johnson III RIP


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A nation of investors
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By Joe Nocera

Among the trailblazers who made finance more accessible to the masses starting in the 1970s — John Bogle of Vanguard with his index fund, Charles Schwab with his discount brokerage and Louis Rukeyser with his weekly interrogation of one Wall Street sage or another — Edward C. Johnson III, the longtime leader of Fidelity Investments, was the least well known yet arguably the most important.

The others were all public figures, but Mr. Johnson, who died last week at the age of 91, was a Boston patrician with a patrician’s aversion to the spotlight. Despite his upper-class background, he is credited with helping to change the way the middle class thought about its money, transforming Americans from savers to investors. That’s why he matters.

Mr. Johnson, widely known as Ned, was 42 when he took over Fidelity, a small mutual fund company his father had run for three decades. The year was 1972: The market was in the doldrums, inflation was on the rise and Fidelity’s assets were in decline.

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