Jack Bogle

Authored By: Benefits And Pensions Monitor Staff | Publish Date: January 21, 2019

John Clifton ‘Jack’ Bogle, founder of The Vanguard Group who died last Wednesday at age 89 had legendary status in the American investment community, largely because of two towering achievements: He introduced the first index mutual fund for investors and, in the face of skeptics, stood behind the concept until it gained widespread acceptance and he drove down costs across the mutual fund industry by ceaselessly campaigning in the interests of investors. Vanguard, the company he founded to embody his philosophy, is now one of the largest investment management firms in the world.

“Jack Bogle made an impact on not only the entire investment industry, but more importantly, on the lives of countless individuals saving for their futures or their children’s futures,” says Tim Buckley, Vanguard CEO. “He was a tremendously intelligent, driven, and talented visionary whose ideas completely changed the way we invest. We are honored to continue his legacy of giving every investor ‘a fair shake’.”

A resident of Bryn Mawr, PA, he began his career in 1951 after graduating magna cum laude in economics from Princeton University. His senior thesis on mutual funds had caught the eye of fellow Princeton alumnus Walter L. Morgan, who had founded Wellington Fund, the nation’s oldest balanced fund, in 1929 and was one of the deans of the mutual fund industry. Morgan hired the ambitious 22-year-old for his Philadelphia-based investment management firm, Wellington Management Company.

Bogle worked in several departments before becoming assistant to the president in 1955, the first in a series of executive positions he would hold at Wellington: 1962, administrative vice-president; 1965, executive vice-president; and 1967, president. He became the driving force behind Wellington’s growth into a mutual fund family after he persuaded Morgan, in the late 1950s, to start an equity fund that would complement Wellington Fund. Windsor Fund, a value-oriented equity fund, debuted in 1958.

In 1967, Bogle led the merger of Wellington Management Company with the Boston investment firm Thorndike, Doran, Paine & Lewis (TDPL). Seven years later, a management dispute with the principals of TDPL led him to form Vanguard in September 1974 to handle the administrative functions of Wellington’s funds, while TDPL/Wellington Management would retain the investment management and distribution duties. The Vanguard Group of Investment Companies commenced operations on May 1, 1975.

To describe his new venture, Bogle coined the term “The Vanguard Experiment.” It was an experiment in which mutual funds would operate at cost and independently, with their own directors, officers, and staff ‒ a radical change from the traditional mutual fund corporate structure, whereby an external management company ran a fund’s affairs on a for-profit basis.

“Our challenge at the time,” Bogle recalled a decade later, “was to build, out of the ashes of major corporate conflict, a new and better way of running a mutual fund complex. The Vanguard Experiment was designed to prove that mutual funds could operate independently, and do so in a manner that would directly benefit their shareholders.”

In 1976, Vanguard introduced the first index mutual fund ‒ First Index Investment Trust ‒ for individual investors. Ridiculed by others in the industry as “un-American” and “a sure path to mediocrity,” the fund collected a mere $11 million during its initial underwriting. Now known as Vanguard 500 Index Fund, it has grown to be one of the industry’s largest, with more than $441 billion in assets (the sister fund, Vanguard Institutional Index Fund, has $221.5 billion in assets). Today, index funds account for more than 70 per cent of Vanguard’s $4.9 trillion in assets under management; they are offered by many other fund companies as well and they make up most exchange-traded funds (ETFs). For his pioneering of the index concept for individual investors, Bogle was often called the “father of indexing.”

Bogle and Vanguard again broke from industry tradition in 1977, when Vanguard ceased to market its funds through brokers and instead offered them directly to investors. The company eliminated sales charges and became a pure no-load mutual fund complex ‒ a move that would save shareholders hundreds of millions of dollars in sales commissions. This was a theme for Bogle and his successors: Vanguard is known today for maintaining investment costs among the lowest in the industry.

A champion of the individual investor, he is widely credited with helping to bring increased disclosure about mutual fund costs and performance to the public. His commitment to safeguarding investors’ interests often prompted him to speak out against practices that were common among his peers in other mutual fund organizations. “We are more than a mere industry,” he insisted in a 1987 speech before the National Investment Company Services Association. “We must hold ourselves to higher standards, standards of trust and fiduciary duty. Change we must ‒ in our communications, our pricing structure, our product, and our promotional techniques.”

In January 1996, Bogle passed the reins of Vanguard to his hand-picked successor, John J. Brennan, who joined the company in 1982 as his assistant. The following month, he underwent heart transplant surgery. A few months later, he was back in the office, writing and speaking about issues of importance to mutual fund investors.

In December 1999, he stepped down from the Vanguard board of directors and created the Bogle Financial Markets Resource Center, a Vanguard-supported venture. Bogle worked as the centre’s president ‒ analyzing issues affecting the financial markets, mutual funds, and investors through books, articles, and public speeches—until his death.


In 2004, Time magazine named Bogle one of “the world’s 100 most powerful and influential people” and Institutional Investor magazine presented him with its Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2010, Forbes magazine described him as the person who “has done more good for investors than any other financier of the past century.” Fortune magazine designated him one of the investment industry’s four “Giants of the 20th Century” in 1999. In January 2012, some of the nation’s most respected financial leaders celebrated his career at the John C. Bogle Legacy Forum. Among his numerous other awards and honors were:

  • Pennsylvania Society Gold Medal for Distinguished Achievement, 2016
  • EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Lifetime Achievement Award, 2016
  • FUSE Research Network Award for Lifetime Impact and Commitment to Investors and Investment Management Consultants Association Richard J. Davis Ethics Award, 2010.
  • National Council on Economic Education Visionary Award, 2007.
  • Center for Corporate Excellence Exemplary Leader Award, 2006.
  • Yale School of Management, Legends of Leadership, 2003.
  • Barron’s Investment Hall of Fame, 1999.
  • Woodrow Wilson Award from Princeton University for “distinguished achievement in the nation’s service,” 1999.
  • Fixed Income Analysts Society’ Hall of Fame, 1999.
  • Award for Professional Excellence from the Association for Investment Management and Research, 1998.
  • No-Load Mutual Fund Association’s first Outstanding Achievement Award, 1986.


Bogle was a best-selling author, beginning with ‘Bogle on Mutual Funds: New Perspectives for the Intelligent Investor’ in 1993. He followed that with ‘Common Sense on Mutual Funds: New Imperatives for the Intelligent Investor’ (1999); ‘John Bogle on Investing: The First 50 Years’ (2000); ‘Character Counts: The Creation and Building of The Vanguard Group’ (2002); ‘Battle for the Soul of Capitalism’ (2005); ‘The Little Book of Common Sense Investing’ (2007); ‘Enough. True Measures of Money, Business, and Life’ (2008); ‘Common Sense on Mutual Funds: Fully Updated 10th Anniversary Edition’ (2009); ‘Don’t Count on It! Reflections on Investment Illusions, Capitalism, “Mutual” Funds, Indexing, Entrepreneurship, Idealism, and Heroes’ (2011); ‘The Clash of the Cultures: Investment vs. Speculation’ (2012); ‘The Little Book of Common Sense Investing: 10th Anniversary Edition’ (2017), and ‘Stay the Course: The Story of Vanguard and the Index Revolution’ (2018).


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