Financier John Neff: a biography of a successful investor
John Neff is a distinguished financier who rose to fame with his own book, published in 2001. He was a professor at the Wharton School until 1995, after which he took a well-deserved leave of absence to pursue other careers.
Neff was born in 1931, his father ran a small firm, and the boy in his teens began to help him. In 1951, the young man was drafted into the army, and after his return in 1953, he went to college. However, he did not stop there and decided to continue his education. Thus, John’s arsenal included a degree in business administration. In parallel with his studies, the young man worked as a securities analyst at a bank in Cleveland, where his career continued for about 8 years.
Neff created his own unique style of investing. He invested in companies that were not the most popular at the time. Such a strategy brought excellent results, and the degree of John’s credibility in professional circles increased significantly.
Neff bought stocks, the price of which was falling as a result of changes in the market. The investor called his approach “backdoor access. Thus, in the 1980s, after a string of disappointing news, he invested in automobile manufacturer Ford. At the time, the corporation’s stock dropped to $14 a paper, but three years later its value rose to $50.
From 1964 to 1995 Neff worked as a manager at Vanguard’s Windsor Fund. During that time, his annual return on invested funds rose to 13.7 percent. By comparison, during the same period, the return on the S&P Index was at 10.6%. Thanks to his successful professional performance, John was among the best investment managers. In order to stay afloat, Neff regularly studied analytical articles and Wall Street Journal exposés. In addition, he believed that an investor should invest in an area with which he was familiar.
In addition, John was extremely appreciative of face-to-face interactions. He met with company executives to understand perspectives and the desire to develop. The investor believed that only through direct communication could he assess how effectively the management was running the business and the viability of the chosen strategy.
Despite his brilliant successes, John Neff was a very humble man who did not engage in his own PR. Much more eloquent about his professionalism were the growth in investment returns, successful deals on the market, and a huge number of satisfied clients.