Farewell to the father of passive investing

John C. Bogle, founder of The Vanguard Group and widely recognised as a legend in the evidence-based investing community, passed away on January 16th, aged 89, at his home in Pennsylvania. 

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It's fair to say that neither BRWM or our clients would be where we are today without Jack's pioneering work. He introduced the very first index fund for individual investors and ceaselessly argued and campaigned for the interests of the individuals saving for their and their families' futures.  

We met Jack several years ago when he featured in our ground-breaking documentary film, Passive investing: the evidence the fund management industry would prefer you not to see. We were delighted to receive a personal letter from him (see above) when the film was finally completed.

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Paying tribute to Jack Bogle, investing legend Warren Buffett said that he had "...done more for American investors as a whole than any individual I've known. A lot of Wall Street is devoted to charging a lot for nothing. He charged nothing to accomplish a huge amount."

Bill Bernstein, who also appeared in our documentary, told the Philadelphia Enquirer that, “Jack could have been a multibillionaire on a par with Gates and Buffett,".... Instead, he turned his company into one owned by its mutual funds, and in turn their investors, “that exists to provide its customers the lowest price. He basically chose to forgo an enormous fortune to do something right for millions of people. I don’t know any other story like it in American business history.”

You'll be able to find many more tributes from the great and good of the finance world by googling Jack's name. And on a personal note, when we visited him in 2012, we were struck by how much his staff loved him, the many unsolicited comments we received praising him, and his obvious concern for the welfare of his people and their families.  

Jack Bogle made low-cost investing accessible to the masses, setting up Vanguard for the benefit of its investors, not its shareholders. He had no airs and graces and was warm, friendly and welcoming. In his 80's, he had a pin-sharp mind and could communicate with great clarity the benefits of passive investing for the vast majority of individuals.

A religious man and regular church-goer, he had a genuine love for mankind. He had many outside interests, including British seafaring. Indeed, HMS Vanguard was a ship in Nelson's fleet; the name meaning 'the foremost part of an advancing army or naval force' and also, perhaps more appropriately in this case, 'a group of people leading the way in new developments or ideas'.

Jack Bogle certainly was the vanguard for a whole new way of investing; one which has reaped millions of pounds of benefits for individual investors all over the world, our clients included. We owe him a huge debt of gratitude, and pass on our condolences to his family.

Richard Wood and Igors Alferovs


 

 

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