Vanguard Group founder John Bogle testifies before the Senate Governmental Affairs financial subcommittee in Washington DC on Tuesday, January 27, 2004. New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer told lawmakers he will continue to demand fee cuts in settlements of
mutual fund cases as the $7.2 trillion industry resists calls for an overhaul of how it sets fees. Photographer: Ken Cedeno/Bloomberg News
© Bloomberg

Few have ever reshaped an industry as fundamentally as Jack Bogle reshaped asset management. The founder of Vanguard and a pioneer of the $10tn and still-growing passive investing industry, passed away this week — and tributes have flowed.

Here are some of the best reader comments on our obituary, along with tributes and memories from industry grandees.

‘He did not want to be the richest guy in the cemetery’

His net worth was minuscule compared to the so-called Wall Street “titans” who produce little of value to the economy and to investors, but get incredibly rich by creating the illusion they work for the good of the country and many investors. Bogle could have become a billionaire had he chosen to take Vanguard public or keep it a privately held-for-profit company like Fidelity. Instead, he chose the credit union approach. He did not want to be the richest guy in the cemetery.

For three decades I have only invested in Vanguard funds and came out ahead. Mr Bogle has my highest respects, unlike most of the rest of the financial sector.

FT commenter Mozart

‘No single person has ever done more for investors while asking less for himself’

Clifford Asness, managing and founding principal of AQR Capital Management, speaks at the Bloomberg Markets Most Influential Summit in New York, U.S., on Monday, Sept. 22, 2014. The conference brings together the most influential people in global markets and finance before an elite audience of 200 investment professionals. Photographer: Peter Foley/Bloomberg
© Bloomberg

Though we knew it was imminent, the day we lost Jack, nevertheless, still felt shocking. While perhaps unlikely, given our age and investing style differences (everyone knows an indexer and a quant active manager can’t be friends, right?) we had become quite close over the years.

He was such a force for good, and had such vitality, it’s difficult to imagine the world without him. He was one of the last heroes and one of the last old school gentlemen. And up to the very last, he was working! He was writing his business memoir (and a history of Vanguard) and commenting widely and, of course, honestly and bravely, on the burning investing issues of the day.

Put simply, no single person has ever done more for investors while asking less for himself. Nobody comes within a mile. We won’t see his like again.

Clifford Asness, managing and founding principal, AQR Capital Management

‘A real champion of the investing public’

If you want to read only one book on investing, The Little Book of Common Sense Investing fits the bill. Jack’s whole investing philosophy could be summed up in one sentence: “The more you pay the less you get.” A real champion of the investing public.

FT commenter Jed

‘Vanguard proved to be the perfect title’

I had the privilege of meeting him on a visit to the Vanguard HQ in Valley Forge in the early 1990s. What is it about that place and determined leaders of American revolutionary causes, eh?

Venerating British naval success at the battle of the Nile in his new firm’s name must have seemed odd when he picked it, but “Vanguard” proved to be the perfect title for an organisation that led from the front of an investing revolution which has benefited the many, not just the few.

FT commenter Monboddo

‘Warren Buffett has rightly described Jack Bogle as the best friend the ordinary investor has ever had’

 Burton Malkiel

At Princeton a young economics student named Jack Bogle wrote his thesis on the mutual fund industry. He described the distribution system as antiquated and the fees that were being charged to ordinary investors as unconscionably excessive. He documented that the net returns being earned by investors were wholly inadequate and suggested that a new kind of mutual fund company was badly needed. I could not find the grade Jack Bogle received, but it must have been a superior one since he graduated with high honours, and the senior thesis represented at least half of his final standing in the department.

Jack went on to establish the Vanguard Group along the lines outlined in that prescient senior thesis. Vanguard today is a $5tn enterprise and the most consumer-friendly financial institution in the world. Because of Jack’s vision and moral commitments, Vanguard investors have saved billions of dollars in fees and have been able to achieve better financial security and a more comfortable retirement. Warren Buffett has rightly described Jack Bogle as the best friend the ordinary investor has ever had.

Burton Malkiel, professor of economics at Princeton, author of ‘A Random Walk Down Wall Street’ and a former Vanguard board member

‘Jack is smiling’

Jack could have accumulated more wealth, but psychic merit was more valuable to him than coin . . . All told, Jack is smiling. He will feel, from his cloud perch, that he managed the process about as he would wish. We remain friends on different sides of life’s divide.

Dean LeBaron, former CEO of Batterymarch

‘The investment management industry has lost a legend’

Ronald "Ron" O'Hanley, president and chief executive officer of State Street Global Advisors (SSGA), speaks during a Bloomberg Television interview at the annual Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California, U.S., on Tuesday, May 3, 2016. The conference gathers attendees to explore solutions to today's most pressing challenges in financial markets, industry sectors, health, government and education. Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg
© Bloomberg

With the passing of John “Jack” Bogle, the investment management industry has lost a legend. Bogle’s devotion to index investing transformed the industry and provided a low-cost entry point for savers; as one of the largest index providers in the world, we and our investors owe him a great deal.

Throughout his career Bogle displayed the best attributes of our profession and was the model of a principled, visionary, scrupulous, thrifty and relentlessly optimistic investor. He profoundly changed our industry for the better and exemplified the success that comes when we focus on doing what is right for investors.

Ron O’Hanley, president and chief executive officer of State Street

‘I owe a growing pension, despite drawdowns, to Jack Bogle’

While posted to New York in the mid-1980s, I read one of Jack Bogle’s books but when I returned to London I was influenced by the investment hype and put my pension funds with several of the top investment houses. By the late 1990s I’d learned that selecting top fund managers was a fool’s errand. And the ‘known’ fees were outrageous. What to do?

In the 2000s I invested conservatively in bonds and traditional index funds until iShares and Vanguard launched their [exchange traded funds] early this decade . . . There’s been no looking back . . . [Vanguard] consistently charge the lowest fees — and of course mirror the market growth since the great recession. I owe a growing pension, despite drawdowns, to Jack Bogle. A great pioneer and modest man who reminds one — in these depressing times — that America produces the best.

FT commenter Forwhatitisworth

‘A loss to the world’

Utmost respect for this man. I was lucky enough to have had a brief catch-up with him last year. Aside from all the good he has brought to retail investors, he is a wonderful human [being] — intelligent, respectful, humble, with an open mind. At an age of 89 and surviving an open heart surgery, he still comes to the office everyday — with no expensive paintings/collectibles, just piles of his books to share his . . . understanding of investing to the wider world. Losing him is a true loss to the world, but his legacy stays.

FT commenter Alice

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2023. All rights reserved.
Reuse this content (opens in new window) CommentsJump to comments section

Follow the topics in this article