Vanguard Founder Jack Bogle's Rise to Success, Wealth and Modesty

For Vanguard’s 83-year-old founder, it’s always been about the greater good. Just spare him the superlatives.

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“I tell you that virtue is not given by money, but that from virtue comes money and every other good of man.” —Socrates

Photo by Jared CastaldiJack Bogle has shared many things in his life and career. Among them, the very financial giant he founded. He’s shared stories, too—like the one about the student who approached him after a speech at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.

“So what’s the real story?” the student asked Vanguard’s innovative founder with a wink. “Surely you retained some small ownership share to compensate you for your vision?”

“Nope, Jack told him, no ownership stake hidden away in the bowels of the corporate charter,” recalls Kevin Laughlin, Bogle’s research assistant from 1999 to 2011. “Jack’s often remarked that, while not every industry needs Vanguard, every industry needs a vanguard. I think it would be more accurate to say that every industry needs a Jack Bogle—someone who’s willing to challenge the status quo, and suffer the slings and arrows of his peers, in order to build a vision.”

Bogle is the first to say that he’s no visionary. “History could totally ignore me or make me out to be bigger than that, but I’m really a very ordinary person who’s had so many breaks. I’m so far removed from genius,” says Vanguard’s retired CEO, a longtime Bryn Mawr resident. “I used common sense to create and build a new kind of company.”

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