John Neff

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John B. Neff, CFA
BornSeptember 19, 1931
ResidenceBerwyn, Pennsylvania, U.S.
NationalityUnited States
Other names"The Professional's Professional"
Alma materUniversity of Toledo
Case Western Reserve University
OccupationInvestor, mutual fund manager, and philanthropist
Known forManaging the Vanguard Windsor Fund
Spouse(s)Lillian Neff

John B. Neff, CFA, (born 1931) is an American investor, mutual fund manager, and philanthropist. He is notable for his contrarian and value investing styles as well as for heading Vanguard's Windsor Fund[1]. Windsor became the highest returning, and subsequently largest mutual fund in existence during Neff's management—eventually closing to new investors for a period in the 1980s. Neff retired from Vanguard in 1995. During Neff's 31 years, from 1964 to 1995, Windsor returned 13.7% annually versus 10.6% for the S&P 500.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

John Neff was born in 1931 in Wauseon, Ohio. He went on to attend the University of Toledo and graduated in 1955, summa cum laude. After attaining his undergraduate degree he went on to work at the National City Bank of Cleveland before attending business school of Case Western Reserve University, graduating in 1958.

Investment career[edit]

In 1964, he was asked to join the Wellington Management Co. (a sub-advisor to the Vanguard group of funds). After three years at the company, he was appointed portfolio manager of Windsor, Gemini, and Qualified Dividend funds. He retired in 1995.[3]

Investment philosophy[edit]

Neff has referred to his investing style as a low price-to-earnings (P/E) methodology, though others consider Neff a variation of the standard value investor. He is also considered a tactical contrarian investor who placed emphasis on low-tech security analysis, that is, digging into a company and its management and analyzing the books, in contrast to David Dreman, who is more of a statistical contrarian investor. Neff's strategies generated relatively high turnover with an average holding period of three years. One area in which Neff is similar to value investors such as Warren Buffett is in emphasizing ROE (return on equity), stating that it is the single best measure of management effectiveness. However, differing from many value investors, Neff places emphasis on predicting the economy and projecting a company's future earnings. Also, Neff liked to pick stocks where dividend yields were high, in the 4% to 5% range.

Personal life[edit]

He published his autobiography, "John Neff On Investing", in 2001.

The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania named a professorship in their business school after Neff, the John B. Neff Professor of Finance. The University of Toledo College of Business has named the Department of Finance in his honor, the John B. and Lillian E. Neff Department of Finance. This department houses the John B. and Lillian E. Neff Endowed Chair in Finance.

See also[edit]


  • John Neff on Investing. by John Neff, S. L. Mintz. Published by John Wiley and Sons, 2001. ISBN 0-471-41792-0.


  1. ^ Neff, John B. (2004-04-28). "A Conversation with Legendary Value Investor John B. Neff, CFA". AIMR Conference Proceedings. 2004 (3): 5–8. doi:10.2469/cp.v2004.n3.3391. ISSN 1535-0207.
  2. ^ John Neff on Investing
  3. ^ "The Greatest Investors: John Neff | Investopedia". Investopedia. 2003-12-01. Retrieved 2017-02-20.

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