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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Vanguard’s oldest fund—now the $62 billion Wellington Fund—was founded in 1929.Bogle’s causes have never been popular, nor has his perpetual search for the answer to the question: What value have you created for society? But he’s remained consistent and persistent, with a dogged devotion to simple, humble investment convictions—balance, diversification and big-picture focus.

“Volatility means nothing to the long-term investor,” he says. 

In his books on investing, Bogle includes chapters on human beings. When it comes to Vanguard, he continues to advocate for cuts in marketing, an increase in management, a reduction in salesmanship and an uptick in stewardship. It all flies in the face of contemporary buy-now, get-rich philosophy.

Bogle has compared the dip in the American economy to the fall of Rome—a collapse that isn’t due so much to greed and power as it is to arrogance, smugness, self-satisfaction, and a meltdown of traditional ethical standards. “Self-interest got out of hand,” he says.

He’s written that the financial industry has been “blown up by its own dynamite.” And it’s the only industry, he contends, where customers don’t get what they pay for—that beating the market will always be a “loser’s game,” until it functions in the public’s favor.

While Bogle predicted our economic slump, he also knows that he’s painted himself into a corner as an “aging mutual-fund Luddite who is uninspired and unimpressed by the rise of complexity (and excess cost) at the expense of simplicity (and minimum cost).”

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