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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Jack Bogle (left) joined Wellington Management Company in 1951, after penning his senior thesis on mutual funds at Princeton University.Bogle Financial Markets Research Center was established in 2000 to support ongoing post-Vanguard work on behalf of investors. Four years later, its namesake would make TIME magazine’s list of “The World’s Most Influential People.”

A month before his heart transplant in 1996, Bogle stepped down as Vanguard’s chief executive. Three years after that, he stepped down from his position as chairman of the board—a move then cast as company policy and since disputed. He had differences with John Brennan, the successor he’d groomed, and was basically eased out of his own company. “No other director retired at 70,” says Bogle now.

As for his independent venture, Bogle continues to be amazed. “When I left in 1999, I was afraid my phone would never ring,” he says. “Well, that hasn’t happened.”

Headquartered in Malvern’s Victory Building, the center has provided a conduit for Bogle’s speaking engagements and other community and industry obligations. It’s also a home base for launching new investigations—the next one focused on pension plans. Sitting in his office, dressed in a green sweater and khakis, his thinning hair combed straight back, Bogle reveals that he’s 10 days away from finishing his 10th book, The Clash of the Cultures. Now available, it pits speculation against investment while lamenting how risk has supplanted solid decision making. Wall Street, he asserts, is one “gigantic gambling machine.”

Casting out to sea in the mutual funds war in 1974, Bogle named his company after the HMS Vanguard, Lord Horatio Nelson’s flagship in the British victory over Napoleon at the Battle of the Nile. In stark contrast to his industry peers, he’s led a life that hasn’t been about “greed or about being number one,” as one veteran Vanguard employee puts it.

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