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Who Was John Bogle? Vanguard Founder, Father of Indexing

James Chen, CMT is an expert trader, investment adviser, and global market strategist.

john bogle age

John Bogle was the founder of the Vanguard Group and a major proponent of index investing . Commonly referred to as "Jack," Bogle revolutionized the mutual fund world by creating index investing, which allows investors to buy mutual funds that track the broader market. He did this with the overall intent to make investing easier and at a low cost for the average investor.

He died on Jan. 16, 2019, at the age of 89.

Key Takeaways

  • John Bogle was an investor and founder of the Vanguard Group, one of the largest investment firms in the world.
  • Bogle created index investing, which allows investors to buy mutual funds that track the broader market.
  • Bogle introduced the Vanguard 500 fund, which tracks the returns of the S&P 500 and marked the first index fund marketed to retail investors.
  • One of Bogle's pioneering achievements was low-cost investing in mutual funds by creating no-load funds.
  • Index investing utilizes a passive investment strategy that requires a manager to only ensure that the fund's holdings match those of the benchmark index.
  • Common Sense on Mutual Funds: New Imperatives for the Intelligent Investor is a book Bogle wrote on investing that has since become a classic for investors worldwide.

Investopedia / Hugo Lin

Early Life and Education

John Bogle was born on May 8, 1929, in Montclair, New Jersey. He attended Blair Academy which was paid for by his uncle, as his family had lost most of their wealth in the 1929 stock market crash. John Bogle attended Princeton University where he studied economics.

In his early career, he joined Wellington Management in 1951 and attempted to persuade them to change their strategy of focusing on one investment fund to many. He eventually became chairman of Wellington but was fired after a poorly made merger decision. He then founded his own mutual fund company, Vanguard Group, in 1974.

With Vanguard, Bogle employed a novel ownership structure in which the shareholders of mutual funds became part owners of the funds in which they invested. The funds themselves own the investment firm, making the fund investors indirect owners of the firm itself. This structure allows the firm to incorporate any profits into its operating structure, reducing investment costs for fund investors.

In 1976, Bogle introduced the Vanguard 500 fund, which tracks the returns of the S&P 500 and marked the first index fund marketed to retail investors. Bogle’s unique structure for Vanguard also made it a natural fit for the provision of no-load mutual funds , which do not charge a commission on investment purchases.

An index fund is an investment fund, such as an ETF or mutual fund with a portfolio that is constructed to match that of a specific market index.

When the Vanguard 500 fund was launched in its initial iteration, it raised only $11 million in its first underwriting in 1976. As of July 28, 2022, the fund manages more than $709 billion in assets.

Bogle retired as CEO and chair of Vanguard in 1999 and wrote Common Sense on Mutual Funds: New Imperatives for the Intelligent Investor the same year, which has since become a classic for investors worldwide.

John Bogle contributed significantly to the popularity of index investing, in which a fund maintains a mix of investments that track a major market index . Bogle’s philosophy that average investors would find it difficult or impossible to beat the market over time led him to prioritize ways to reduce expenses associated with investing in mutual funds. For example, Bogle focused on no-load funds featuring low turnover and simple investment strategies.

The philosophy behind passive investing generally rests upon the idea that the expenses associated with chasing high market returns cancel out most or all of the gains an investor would otherwise achieve with a passive strategy that relies upon funds with lower turnover, management fees, and expense ratios .

Passive investing stands in contrast to active investing , which requires managers to take a more hands-on role with the intent of outperforming the market.

Index funds fit this model nicely because they base their holdings on the securities listed on any given index. Investors who purchase shares in index funds gain the benefit of the diversity represented by all the securities on an index.

This protects against the risk that a given company will lower the performance of the overall fund. Index funds also more or less run themselves, as managers only need to ensure their holdings match those of the index they follow. This keeps fees lower for index funds than for funds with more active trading.

Finally, because index funds require fewer trades to maintain their portfolios than funds with more active management schemes, index funds tend to produce more tax-efficient returns than other types of funds.

What Was John Bogle's Net Worth?

At the time of his death in 2019, John Bogle's net worth was approximately $80 million. He earned the bulk of that money as the founder of the investment management company, Vanguard.

Who Invented Passive Investing?

John Bogle, the founder of the investment management firm, Vanguard, invented passive investing. By doing so, he created a new industry focused on this type of investing as opposed to the traditional method of investing, active investing. He is known as the "Father of Passive Investing."

What Is the Difference Between an ETF and an Index Fund?

An ETF can be bought and sold on an exchange like a stock at any point whereas an index fund can only be traded at the end of the day at the set price point. ETFs provide greater flexibility than index funds.

John Bogle is a titan in the history of investment management by starting the Vanguard Group, one of the largest investment management firms in the world. Through Vanguard he popularized passive investing, making it easier for average investors to invest their capital and generate returns with low risks.

Vanguard. " Vanguard Announces the Passing of Founder John C. Bogle ."

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John Bogle, Vanguard Group Inc. Founder, Dies at 89

John Bogle listens during an interview

(Bloomberg) — John Bogle, who popularized the low-cost index-based mutual fund as founder of Vanguard Group Inc. and insisted that most stock-picking money managers weren’t worth the fees they charged, has died. He was 89.

He died Wednesday, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, citing his family. The cause was cancer. He suffered the first of at least six heart attacks at age 31. In 1967 he had a pacemaker installed, and in 1996 he received a heart transplant.

By word and example, Bogle proselytized on behalf of patient, long-term investing in a diversified group of well-run companies. He focused his advocacy on index funds, those that buy and hold the broadest mixes of stocks. He cautioned that the pursuit of quick trades and short-term profits typically helped investment advisers more than investors.

“The way to wealth for those in the business is to persuade their clients, ‘Don’t just stand there. Do something,” he wrote in “The Little Book of Common Sense Investing” (2007). “But the way to wealth for their clients in the aggregate is to follow the opposite maxim: ‘Don’t do something. Just stand there.”

Bogle’s formula turned Vanguard into the largest U.S. manager of stock and bond funds.

“He was a towering figure,” Burton Malkiel, a Princeton University economics professor and Vanguard board member since 1977, said in an interview. “The mutual-funds industry is infinitely better because of Jack Bogle.”

Index Funds

Bogle founded Valley Forge, Pennsylvania-based Vanguard in 1974. Investors attracted to its low fees helped the firm overtake American Funds, managed by Los Angeles-based Capital Group Inc., in 2008 as the biggest U.S. stock and bond fund manager. Vanguard had about $5.3 trillion in assets under management as of Sept. 30, 2018.

Under Bogle, the company introduced the first retail index mutual fund in 1976.

Initially greeted with skepticism, the Vanguard 500 Index Fund, an unmanaged portfolio of the stocks represented in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, had $266 billion in assets as of mid-2017, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“It was lambasted as foolishness in the 1970s,” Dan Culloton, editor of the Vanguard Fund Family Report for Chicago-based research company Morningstar Inc., said of the inception of index funds. “It’s a cornerstone of investing now.”

Another Vanguard index fund, Total Stock Market Index, had $514 billion in assets as of mid-2017.

Bogle promoted the idea that index funds such as the Vanguard 500 can outperform most actively managed funds because they have lower management fees and trading costs.

“Everybody really thought he was crazy, but he was tough enough not to care what everybody thought,” said Malkiel, author of “A Random Walk Down Wall Street,” which shares Bogle’s view that trying to outsmart the market is a lost cause.

By making Vanguard a cooperative, owned by the funds it ran, Bogle gave up the opportunity to amass a much larger personal fortune. He said the cooperative ownership, unique in the industry, eliminated what he saw as a fundamental conflict faced by publicly listed money managers, which try to serve both corporate shareholders and fund investors.

When Bogle retired from Vanguard on Dec. 31, 1999, the company established the Bogle Financial Markets Research Center. He served as president and continued to speak and write about the need for reforms.

‘Hell Bent’

“The mutual-fund industry is now dominated by giant, publicly held financial conglomerates run by businessmen hell bent on earning a return on the firm’s capital, not the return on the capital invested by the fund shareholders,” Bogle said in a 2006 speech at the Free Library of Philadelphia.

He told Bloomberg Television in December 2008 that the U.S. government’s bailouts of companies including American International Group Inc. and Citigroup Inc. had “deeply discredited” capitalism. At a February 2009 congressional hearing, he warned that the U.S. retirement system “is imperiled, headed for a serious train wreck.” Months later he filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court siding with investors who were challenging fees charged by fund managers.

At industry events and other public appearances, Bogle often drew admirers while making fund company executives uncomfortable. Some fans called him “St. Jack of the mutual-fund industry.”

“He stood up and said what he believed was right, and it cost him friendships in the fund industry,” Don Phillips, managing director at Morningstar, said in an interview.

At a conference hosted by Morningstar in May 2009, Bogle criticized asset managers for paying themselves too much. “Compensation is totally, ridiculously out of control,” he said. “Money managers should return to stewardship and trusteeship.”

Buffett’s ‘Hero’

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett praised Bogle in his annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway Inc. shareholders in early 2017.

“If a statue is ever erected to honor the person who has done the most for American investors, the hands down choice should be Jack Bogle,” Buffett wrote. “He has the satisfaction of knowing that he helped millions of investors realize far better returns on their savings than they otherwise would have earned. He is a hero to them and to me.”

John Clifton Bogle was born May 8, 1929, in Montclair, New Jersey, to William Bogle Jr. and the former Josephine Hipkins. His twin brother, David, died in 1994.

He attended high school at Blair Academy in Blairstown, New Jersey, on an academic scholarship. He later became a trustee and one of the school’s largest donors.

Bogle graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University in 1951 with a degree in economics. He wrote his senior thesis on the nascent mutual-funds industry.

Wellington Fund

He joined Philadelphia-based Wellington Management Co., which operated the Wellington Fund, the first so-called balanced mutual fund, containing both stocks and bonds. He quickly rose as a marketer and administrator and became the assistant to firm founder Walter Morgan. In 1967, he was promoted to president and chief executive officer.

He disagreed with Wellington partners over investment strategy and personnel matters during the next several years, and, in January 1974, the Boston-based directors fired him.

Bogle remained chairman of a separate oversight board of the Wellington funds, whose members were loyal to him. He persuaded the board to relieve Wellington Management of responsibility for administering the funds — tasks that included shareholder record-keeping, fund accounting and preparing public filings — while continuing to oversee management and distribution. Mutual funds, Bogle said, should be independent from the companies that manage their investments.

Admiral Nelson

A student of British naval history, Bogle continued Wellington’s Napoleonic-Wars theme by naming the newly independent group of funds “Vanguard,” after the flagship of Admiral Horatio Nelson’s fleet in the Battle of the Nile in 1798. Bogle’s office was stuffed with decorations, from pillows and paintings to ship models and statuettes, that commemorated Nelson and his fleet.

In 1977, the fund’s board took control of sales of the funds from Wellington, which had distributed them through brokers. Vanguard funds were then sold directly to customers as no-load shares, meaning investors bought them without paying broker commissions.

Vanguard introduced a money-market fund in 1975 and bond funds in 1977, run by outside managers. In 1981, Vanguard hired its own staff of investment professionals to run those funds. Investment-management services were provided to the funds at cost, making the funds’ expenses among the lowest in the industry.

Management Battle

Bogle remained Vanguard’s CEO until 1996, when he handed the post to his designated successor, John Brennan. Bogle remained chairman of the board and began squabbling with Brennan over the company’s growth plans, with Bogle questioning Brennan’s plans to offer discount brokerage services and develop a so-called supermarket for online mutual fund shopping.

After reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70 in 2000, Bogle asked the Vanguard board to waive the rule for him. It refused, in what was seen as a decision cementing Brennan’s authority at the firm.

Bogle’s books on investing included “Enough: True Measures of Money, Business, and Life” published in 2008 and “The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism” in 2005.

Fortune Magazine named him one of four “Giants of the Investment Industry of the 20th Century” in 1999. Time named him one of the world’s 100 most powerful and influential people in 2004.

Bogle and his wife, the former Eve Sherrerd, had six children: Barbara, Jean, Nancy, Sandra, Andrew and John Jr., according to Marquis Who’s Who. John Bogle Jr. is a limited partner at Bogle Investment Management, a Newton, Massachusetts, firm that follows an active stock picking approach.

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Vanguard Announces The Passing Of Founder John C. Bogle

VALLEY FORGE, PA (January 16, 2019)—Vanguard announces the passing of John Clifton Bogle, founder of The Vanguard Group, who died today in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. He was 89. 

Mr. Bogle 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,” said Vanguard CEO Tim Buckley. “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.’”           

Mr. Bogle, a resident of Bryn Mawr, PA, 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. Mr. Morgan hired the ambitious 22-year-old for his Philadelphia-based investment management firm, Wellington Management Company.

Mr. 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. Mr. Bogle became the driving force behind Wellington’s growth into a mutual fund family after he persuaded Mr. 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, Mr. 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 Mr. Bogle 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, Mr. 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,” Mr. 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% 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, Mr. Bogle was often called the “father of indexing.”

Mr. 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 Mr. Bogle and his successors: Vanguard is known today for maintaining investment costs among the lowest in the industry.

A champion of the individual investor, Mr. Bogle 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.”

Mr. Bogle spoke frequently before industry professionals and the public. He liked to write his own speeches. He also responded personally to many of the letters written to him by Vanguard shareholders, and he wrote many reports, sometimes as long as 25 pages, to Vanguard employees—whom he called “crew members” in light of Vanguard’s nautical theme. (Mr. Bogle named the company after Admiral Horatio Nelson’s flagship at the Battle of the Nile in 1798; he thought the name "Vanguard" resonated with the themes of leadership and progress.)

In January 1996, Mr. Bogle passed the reins of Vanguard to his hand-picked successor, John J. Brennan, who joined the company in 1982 as Mr. Bogle’s assistant. The following month, Mr. Bogle 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. Mr. Bogle worked as the center’s president—analyzing issues affecting the financial markets, mutual funds, and investors through books, articles, and public speeches—until his death. Mr. Bogle wrote 12 books, selling over 1.1 million copies worldwide.

Industry accomplishments

Mr. Bogle was active in the investment industry. Early on, he served as chairman of the board of governors of the Investment Company Institute from 1969 to 1970. He also served as chairman of the Investment Companies Committee of the National Association of Securities Dealers Inc. (now FINRA) from 1972 to 1974. In 1997, he was appointed by then-SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt to serve on the Independence Standards Board.

In 2004, Time magazine named Mr. 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.

An avid booster of Philadelphia and the surrounding area, Mr. Bogle was active in civic affairs. “I loved Philadelphia, my adopted city that had been so good to me. I established my roots there, finding even more unimaginable diamonds,” he wrote in one of his books.

His civic work extended to organizations involved in education, leadership, and public affairs. He served as the first chairman of the board of trustees and chairman emeritus for the National Constitution Center. He was a member of the American Philosophical Society, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, The Conference Board’s Commission on Public Trust and Private Enterprise, and the investment committee of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. He served as a trustee of the American Indian College Fund, The American College, and Blair Academy.

Corporate board memberships

Mr. Bogle was sought after in the corporate community. He served as a director of Instinet Corporation, Chris-Craft Industries, Mead Corporation, The General Accident Group of Insurance Companies, Meritor Financial Group, Inc., and Bryn Mawr Hospital. He was a trustee for the American Indian College Fund and The American College.

Academic recognition

The academic community recognized Mr. Bogle's for his accomplishments. He received honorary doctorate degrees from Villanova University, Trinity College, Georgetown University, Princeton University, the University of Delaware, University of Rochester, New School University, Susquehanna University, Eastern University, Widener University, Albright College, The Pennsylvania State University, Drexel University, and Immaculata University.

Author and speaker

Mr. 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 10 th 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: 10 th Anniversary Edition (2017), and, Stay the Course: The Story of Vanguard and the Index Revolution (2018) .

Mr. Bogle also wrote numerous articles and commentaries for trade and business publications.

Personal information

Mr. Bogle was born May 8, 1929, in Montclair, New Jersey. He worked his way through Blair Academy and Princeton University as a waiter and also managed Princeton’s athletic ticket office.          

A tall, athletic man who sported a crew cut for most of his life, Mr. Bogle played squash, tennis, and golf, and also enjoyed sailing. He was often described as a “fierce competitor” on the court and course, a demeanor he also maintained on the job. Reading was among his pleasures, as was The New York Times crossword puzzle, which he often completed in less than 20 minutes.

He married Eve Sherrerd in 1956. They had six children: daughters Barbara Bogle Renninger, Jean Bogle, Nancy Bogle St. John, and Sandra Bogle Marucci, and sons John C. Bogle Jr. and Andrew Armstrong Bogle. They had 12 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

About Vanguard

Vanguard is one of the world’s largest investment management companies. As of December 31, 2018, Vanguard managed $4.9 trillion in global assets. The firm, headquartered in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, offers more than 413 funds to its more than 20 million investors worldwide. For more information, visit vanguard.com.

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John Bogle, founder of Vanguard, dies at 89

john bogle age

FILE - In this Tuesday, May 20, 2008, file photo, John Bogle, founder of The Vanguard Group, talks during an interview with The Associated Press, in New York. Vanguard announced Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019, that John C. “Jack” Bogle has died at the age of 89. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

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VALLEY FORGE, Pa. (AP) — John C. Bogle, who simplified investing for the masses by launching the first index mutual fund and founded Vanguard Group, died Wednesday, the company said. He was 89.

Bogle did not invent the index fund, but he expanded access to no-frills, low-cost investing in 1976 when Vanguard introduced the first index fund for individual investors, rather than institutional clients.

The emergence of funds that passively tracked market indexes, like the Standard & Poor’s 500, enabled investors to avoid the higher fees charged by professional fund managers who frequently fail to beat the market. More often than not, the higher operating expenses that fund managers pass on to their shareholders cancel out any edge they may achieve through expert stock-picking.

Bogle and Vanguard shook up the industry further in 1977. The company ended its reliance on outside brokers and instead began directly marketing its funds to investors without charging upfront fees known as sales loads.

Bogle served as Vanguard’s chairman and CEO from its 1974 founding until 1996.

He stepped down as senior chairman in 2000, but remained a critic of the fund industry and Wall Street, writing books, delivering speeches and running the Bogle Financial Markets Research Center.

The advent of index funds accelerated a long-term decline in fund fees and fostered greater competition in the industry. Investors paid 40 percent less in fees for each dollar invested in stock mutual funds during 2017 than they did at the start of the millennium, for example. But Bogle continued to maintain that many funds were overcharging investors, and once called the industry “the poster-boy for one of the most baneful chapters in the modern history of capitalism.”

Bogle also believed that the corporate structure of most fund companies poses an inherent conflict of interest, because a public fund company could put the interests of investors in its stock ahead of those owning shares of its mutual funds. Vanguard has a unique corporate structure in which its mutual funds and fund shareholders are the corporation’s “owners.” Profits are plowed back into the company’s operations, and used to reduce fees.

“A lot of Wall Street is devoted to charging a lot for nothing,” billionaire investor Warren Buffett told CNBC. “He charged nothing to accomplish a huge amount.”

Vanguard, based in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, manages $5 trillion globally. It helped usher in a new era of investing, and index funds have increasingly become the default choice for investors. In 2017, investors plugged $691.6 billion into index funds while pulling $7 billion out of actively managed funds, according to Morningstar.

Vanguard offers both index and managed funds, but remains best-known for its index offerings. Vanguard’s original index fund, now known as the Vanguard 500 Index, is no longer the company’s biggest, but remains among the company’s lowest-cost funds.

Bogle spent the first part of his career at Wellington Management Co., a mutual fund company, then based in Philadelphia. He rose through the ranks and, in his mid-30s, was tapped to run Wellington.

He engineered a merger with a boutique firm that was making huge sums, but was ousted after the stock market tanked in the early 1970s, wiping out millions in Wellington’s assets. He said he learned an important lesson in how little money managers really know about predicting the market.

Bogle suffered several heart attacks and underwent a heart transplant in 1996, the year he stepped down as CEO. He reached the mandatory retirement age of 70 for Vanguard directors in 1999 and left as senior chairman the next year.

Vanguard did not provide a cause of death. Philly.com is reporting he died of cancer, citing Bogle’s family.

“Jack Bogle had unwavering passion for America, our capital markets, and most of all our Main Street investors,” said Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton.

John Clifton Bogle was born in May 1929 in Montclair, New Jersey, to a well-off family; his grandfather founded a brick company and was co-founder of the American Can Co. in which his father worked.

Bogle attended Manasquan High School in Manasquan, N.J, for a time, then got a scholarship to the prestigious all-boys Blair Academy in Blairstown, New Jersey. It was at Blair that Bogle discovered his knack for math. He graduated from Blair in 1947 and was voted most likely to succeed.

Bogle graduated from Princeton with a degree in economics in 1951. His thesis was on the mutual fund industry, which was then still in its infancy.

Bogle is survived by his wife, Eve, six children, 12 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

John Bogle: The Defiant Patron Saint of Index Investing

Vanguard founder John C. Bogle died Jan. 16 at age 89. But "Saint Jack," who built the index fund from virtually nothing into a $5 trillion empire and was a boon to individual investors, had already cheated death several times before.

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Steven Goldberg

They called his quixotic little mutual fund “Bogle’s Folly,” “a sure path to mediocrity” and even “un-American” after he introduced it in 1976. But Vanguard founder John C. Bogle – who died Wednesday, Jan. 16, at age 89 – had the last laugh.

Vanguard has grown into a $5.3 trillion juggernaut with 16,600 employees worldwide, making it one of the world’s largest investment companies. And what has fueled (and continues to fuel) its long-lasting growth is low-cost investing, in general, and the index fund, in particular.

Bogle’s many admirers called him “Saint Jack” for his efforts to slash investing costs. His thoughts and investing lessons inspired a popular investment website, Bogleheads.org, which describes itself as offering “investing advice inspired by John Bogle.” He authored numerous books, almost all after leaving Vanguard in 1999, and they all made the same basic point: Costs are virtually everything in investing, and index funds are the best way to deliver low costs.

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Bogle was fortunate enough to live to see his ideas not just triumph, but become conventional wisdom. At Vanguard, he worked relentlessly for 20 years to cut fund costs. He launched product after product, seemingly unable to find a corner of the market that didn’t deserve an index fund.

They grew slowly at first. Until the 2000s, index funds were never the main event. In the 1980s and 1990s, the brilliant, gun-slinging mutual-fund manager was the star. Find the right manager, and you could make a fortune – those were the words that inspired many of us.

Indeed, Vanguard itself has its share of good, actively managed funds; Bogle was instrumental in starting many of them, too. Most notably, he commissioned Wellington Management and Primecap to each mange several Vanguard funds.

A Young Bogle Draws His Plan

The son of a World War I veteran who lost his fortune in the Great Depression, Bogle was a man who always watched his nickels and dimes. Born in 1929 in Montclair, New Jersey, he won a scholarship to the Blair Academy, where he was voted “most likely to succeed” by his classmates. Even then he showed an unusual aptitude with numbers. In later years, a colleague at Vanguard said Bogle could run his finger down a lengthy column of numbers and instantly point out a mistake.

He won a scholarship to Princeton University, where he waited on tables to make ends meet. Bogle’s senior thesis, penned in 1951, offered a stunningly accurate roadmap of the future course of his life. Everything he did was basically laid out in his thesis .

“Investment companies should be operated in the most efficient, honest, and economical way possible,” a young Bogle wrote. “Future growth can be maximized by reducing sales charges and management fees,” he posited. “The principal role of the investment company should be to serve its shareholders.”

Such thinking was anathema on Wall Street at the time. (Indeed, in many ways, it still is.) Stock brokers charged huge commissions on stock trades. Mutual funds typically imposed large front-end loads, up to 8.5%, and annual fees of well more than 1%.

But Bogle opened the door to another way to run a fund company. By charging dirt-cheap fees, Vanguard’s funds gained ground on their rivals. As the low-cost advantage attracted more investment dollars, Vanguard could afford to cut its prices further, continuing the cycle.

Vanguard Index Funds’ Fees Are Going Even Lower

What’s more, Bogle brought to Vanguard the radical notion that a mutual fund firm should be run like a mutual insurance company. Its customers (investors) should be the owners of the funds; thus, only one set of shareholders could profit from them. Vanguard had no outside shareholders, so it had no incentive to turn a profit and could run its funds “at cost” for shareholders.

“If a statue is ever erected to honor the person who has done the most for American investors, the hands-down choice should be Jack Bogle,” Warren Buffett once said. Indeed, a statue of Bogle has stood for years on the Vanguard campus in Malvern, Pennsylvania.

After college, Bogle went to work at Wellington Management, rising through the ranks to become president in 1967. That same year, Bogle made one of his first few major missteps – a merger with an aggressive set of managers in the “Go-Go” 1960s. When the bottom fell out of the market in the early 1970s, the firm’s funds crashed, too. Bogle was fired in 1974.

While Wellington ended Bogle’s role in investment management of the firm, he was allowed to take many of the administrative and back-office functions with him to the firm he created in September 1974, Vanguard. That made it easy for Bogle to return to the subject of his senior thesis: index funds. On Aug. 31, 1976, he launched First Index Investment Trust, which later was renamed Vanguard 500 Index Fund ( VFIAX ).

Bogle Cheats Death, Again and Again

John Bogle’s accomplishments came despite terrible health. He had at least six heart attacks, with the first at age 31. Doctors told him he wouldn’t live past age 40. In typical Bogle fashion, he fired his doctors and consulted others.

When he played squash, Bogle first instructed his opponent on how to use a defibrillator, in case Bogle had another cardiac event. In 1980, Bogle collapsed on the court and went into cardiac arrest. Fortunately, his opponent that day was a physician, who managed to save him.

In a 2014 speech, Bogle recounted an attack he had while rushing for a train. “I said to the guy who found me, ‘Look, I’m fine. This happens to me a lot. Can you just get me to the next train to Paoli?’” It may have been that brand of mental toughness (and a little denial) that enabled Bogle to live so long and accomplish so much.

In 1996, Bogle met with a dozen financial journalists, including me, at a luncheon in Manhattan. By then, Bogle was visibly a very sick man. His long fingers curled in odd directions, his face was pale, the lines on his face were deeper than ever.

“My body is broken,” he told us. It was clear that Bogle wanted badly to live and equally clear that running Vanguard gave his life meaning. Yet the reality of his illness had finally persuaded even this incredibly stubborn man to step down as CEO. No one at the luncheon thought Bogle would live very long. No one, that is, except perhaps John Bogle himself.

He was hospitalized for more than three months while he awaited a heart transplant. He received the heart of a 26-year-old man and lived more than two decades longer. He died Jan. 16 of cancer.

Bogle remained on Vanguard’s board of directors until December 1999, clashing frequently with other directors, and especially with his hand-picked successor, John Brennan. But after he left the board, he was given a small office building with a couple of assistants. He named it the Bogle Financial Markets Research Center, which still operates today.

Steve Goldberg is an investment adviser in the Washington, D.C., area.

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John Bogle, Founder of Vanguard Group and Investing Pioneer, Dies at 89

Bogle served as vanguard’s chairman and ceo from its 1974 founding until 1996, published january 16, 2019 • updated on january 17, 2019 at 9:01 am, what to know.

  • Vanguard Group founder and investing pioneer John C. Bogle has died at age 89.
  • Bogle served as Vanguard’s chairman and CEO from its 1974 founding until 1996.
  • Bogle is survived by his wife, Eve, six children, 12 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

John C. Bogle, who simplified investing for the masses by launching the first index mutual fund and founding Vanguard Group, died Wednesday, the company said. He was 89. Bogle did not invent the index fund, but he expanded access to no-frills, low-cost investing in 1976 when Vanguard introduced the first index fund for individual investors, rather than institutional clients.

The emergence of funds that passively tracked market indexes, like the Standard & Poor’s 500, enabled investors to avoid the higher fees charged by professional fund managers who frequently fail to beat the market. More often than not, the higher operating expenses that fund managers pass on to their shareholders cancel out any edge they may achieve through expert stock-picking. Bogle and Vanguard shook up the industry further in 1977. The company ended its reliance on outside brokers and instead began directly marketing its funds to investors without charging upfront fees known as sales loads. Bogle served as Vanguard’s chairman and CEO from its 1974 founding until 1996. He stepped down as senior chairman in 2000, but remained a critic of the fund industry and Wall Street, writing books, delivering speeches and running the Bogle Financial Markets Research Center. The advent of index funds accelerated a long-term decline in fund fees and fostered greater competition in the industry. Investors paid 40 percent less in fees for each dollar invested in stock mutual funds during 2017 than they did at the start of the millennium, for example. But Bogle continued to maintain that many funds were overcharging investors, and once called the industry “the poster-boy for one of the most baneful chapters in the modern history of capitalism.” Bogle also believed that the corporate structure of most fund companies poses an inherent conflict of interest, because a public fund company could put the interests of investors in its stock ahead of those owning shares of its mutual funds. Vanguard has a unique corporate structure in which its mutual funds and fund shareholders are the corporation’s “owners.” Profits are plowed back into the company’s operations, and used to reduce fees. Vanguard, based in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, manages $5 trillion globally. It helped usher in a new era of investing, and index funds have increasingly become the default choice for investors. In 2017, investors plugged $691.6 billion into index funds while pulling $7 billion out of actively managed funds, according to Morningstar.

Vanguard offers both index and managed funds, but remains best-known for its index offerings. Vanguard’s original index fund, now known as the Vanguard 500 Index, is no longer the company’s biggest, but remains among the company’s lowest-cost funds. Bogle spent the first part of his career at Wellington Management Co., a mutual fund company, then based in Philadelphia. He rose through the ranks and, in his mid-30s, was tapped to run Wellington. He engineered a merger with a boutique firm that was making huge sums, but was ousted after the stock market tanked in the early 1970s, wiping out millions in Wellington’s assets. He said he learned an important lesson in how little money managers really know about predicting the market. Bogle suffered several heart attacks and underwent a heart transplant in 1996, the year he stepped down as CEO. He reached the mandatory retirement age of 70 for Vanguard directors in 1999 and left as senior chairman the next year. Vanguard did not provide a cause of death. Philly.com is reporting he died of cancer, citing Bogle’s family. John Clifton Bogle was born in May 1929 in Montclair, New Jersey, to a well-off family; his grandfather founded a brick company and was co-founder of the American Can Co. in which his father worked. Bogle attended Manasquan High School in Manasquan, N.J, for a time, then got a scholarship to the prestigious all-boys Blair Academy in Blairstown, New Jersey. It was at Blair that Bogle discovered his knack for math. He graduated from Blair in 1947 and was voted most likely to succeed. Bogle graduated from Princeton with a degree in economics in 1951. His thesis was on the mutual fund industry, which was then still in its infancy. Bogle is survived by his wife, Eve, six children, 12 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

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john bogle age

John Bogle, Vanguard Founder Who Created Index Funds, Dies at 89

Portrait Of John C Bogle

John C. “Jack” Bogle, a legendary but plainspoken figure on Wall Street whose creation of index funds at Vanguard Group transformed the way many Americans invest, died of cancer at age 89, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Wednesday.

Bogle graduated from Princeton University in 1951 and began working at Wellington Fund, an early mutual-fund company, eventually becoming its chairman. In 1974, he founded the Vanguard Company, ushering in the era of low-cost, low-fee index funds, which simplified investing for many families. In 1999, Fortune named Bogle as “one of the four investment giants of the 20th Century.”

Bogle was inspired to work in the fledgling business of mutual funds in 1949 after reading an article in Fortune magazine. He founded Vanguard as a mutual-fund company that would be owned by its shareholders, with profits from the funds being returned to them in the form of smaller fees. Vanguard had about $5.3 trillion in global assets under management as of last September.

Bogle retired as chairman and CEO of Vanguard in 1996 and stepped down as senior chairman four years later. In 1999, he published Common Sense on Mutual Funds: New Imperatives for the Intelligent Investor , which is still considered a classic investment book. All along, Bogle championed the small retail investor against an investment environment on Wall Street that he often argued did not have their best interests in mind.

On Twitter, many investors and Wall Street observers remembered Bogle fondly not only as someone who changed retirement savings but who also steered his legendary career more by a humanitarian spirit than a desire for profit.

John Bogle built a nonprofit business with $5 trillion under management. What would have been profit effectively went to retirees. He's the biggest undercover philanthropist of all time. https://t.co/y20WPCN0ap — Morgan Housel (@morganhousel) January 16, 2019
"The stock market is a giant distraction to the business of investing" Jack Bogle has done more good for the average investor than anyone who ever lived. — Michael Batnick (@michaelbatnick) January 16, 2019
So sad to head the news of the passing of John #Bogle . A caring and thoughtful #innovator and an #investment giant, he revolutionized access to a range of low-fund and well-designed products…benefiting many and positively disrupting the asset management business. May he RIP. pic.twitter.com/aVHDxe8m1Z — Mohamed A. El-Erian (@elerianm) January 16, 2019

In a 2012 profile of Bogle, Fortune’s Andy Serwer wrote about him, “Jack has consistently gone his own way and made up his own mind. It’s an important point to remember when considering how to invest…. You may not build quite what Jack has, but thinking a bit more like him is sure to help you succeed.”

john bogle age

John Bogle, Vanguard founder, dies at 89

Vanguard Group founder and investing pioneer John C. Bogle has died at age 89, according to the company.

NEW YORK — John C. Bogle, who founded the Vanguard Group of Investment Cos. in 1974 and built it into a giant mutual fund company, died Wednesday in Bryn Mawr, Pa. He was 89.

Vanguard announced his death. Mr. Bogle, who had struggled with a congenital heart defect and had several heart attacks, had received a heart transplant in 1996.

Mr. Bogle built Vanguard on a cornerstone belief that was anathema to most mutual fund companies: that over the long term, most investment managers cannot outperform the broad market averages. He popularized and became the leading proponent of indexing, the practice of structuring an investment portfolio to mirror the performance of a market yardstick, such as the S&P 500 stock index.

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“Indexing was the purview of institutional investors, but Jack Bogle came up with the consumer version,” said Daniel P. Wiener, editor of The Independent Adviser for Vanguard Investors, a newsletter and website tracking the company. “He made people aware of expenses and told them that costs come right out of the bottom line.”

Mr. Bogle became a harsh critic of the mutual fund industry. In the second half of the 1990s, he said, stock market investors were spoiled by average annual returns of more than 20 percent per year and, as a result, cared too little about the high expenses they were paying to mutual fund managers for those managers’ presumed expertise at picking stocks. Mutual fund companies, he said, were all but immoral for accepting such fees.

“My ideas are very simple,” he told financial columnist Jeff Sommer in 2012. “In investing, you get what you don’t pay for. Costs matter. So intelligent investors will use low-cost index funds to build a diversified portfolio of stocks and bonds, and they will stay the course. And they won’t be foolish enough to think that they can consistently outsmart the market.”

In recent years, it has been hard to argue with that. Since 1984, fewer than half of the actively managed mutual funds that invest in a broad array of American stocks have outperformed Vanguard’s Index 500 fund, one of the world’s largest, with more than $441 billion in assets under management, according to Vanguard.

Vanguard’s advantage came from the unusual corporate structure that Mr. Bogle adopted. Vanguard managed its indexed funds at cost, charging investors fees that were far lower than those of rivals.

He went a step further in differentiating Vanguard from other firms that sponsor mutual funds. In contrast to a management company, which in most cases controls the fund complex and provides all the investment, administrative, and marketing services required in its operations, Vanguard is more like a mutual insurer, owned by investors in the funds, which employ their own staff. Those employees are responsible to the funds’ directors.

Mr. Bogle argued that Vanguard funds were thus completely independent of their advisers and operated solely in the interests of shareholders — able to monitor investment results objectively, negotiate advisory fees at “arm’s length,” and change advisers if need be.

“John Bogle has changed a basic industry in the optimal direction,” Paul Samuelson, a Nobel laureate in economics, wrote in a foreword to “Bogle on Mutual Funds” (1993). “Of very few this can be said.”

The superior performance of the Vanguard funds attracted investors and assets in droves. In the last three years of the 1990s, Vanguard received more new money from investors than the next three largest fund companies combined.

Vanguard’s consistent growth produced riches for Mr. Bogle, but not to the extent that another ownership structure might have done. For example, Edward C. Johnson III, the chairman of Fidelity Investments, has a net worth of $7.4 billion, according to Forbes. Mr. Bogle’s net worth was estimated at $80 million last year.

Most fund companies spend huge sums to attract new customers. But Mr. Bogle eschewed the product- and marketing-driven thinking of much of the industry that has spread with the boom in mutual fund sales this decade.

“We’re never allowed to use the word ‘product,’” he told an interviewer in 1995. “It sounds like toothpaste and beer.”

His reputation as a tightwad was well earned. At breakfast with a reporter in 1993, at a suburban Philadelphia restaurant near Vanguard’s headquarters, Mr. Bogle figured out that he would beat the $5.95 cost of the buffet by ordering ala carte.

Mr. Bogle readily took swipes at the press for lauding fund managers who temporarily got a hot hand and for focusing heavily on a fund’s quarterly performance. Even a fund manager’s long-term record is not an accurate predictor of future performance, he said.

It was that combative nature that had led him to start Vanguard in the first place.

After graduating from Princeton in 1951 with an economics degree, Mr. Bogle was hired by Walter L. Morgan, founder of the Wellington Fund, a Philadelphia-based fund management company.

While working his way up at Wellington, Mr. Bogle persuaded Morgan to introduce a new all-equity fund, called the Windsor Fund, to complement Wellington, which invested in both stocks and bonds.

Mr. Bogle was named president of Wellington in 1967 and it soon merged with the Boston investment company Thorndike, Doran, Paine & Lewis. Several years later, a management dispute with the principals of the company led Mr. Bogle to depart; he founded Vanguard in 1974 to handle the administrative functions of the mutual funds overseen by Wellington Management.

Two years later, Mr. Bogle founded the Vanguard Index Trust, now known as the Index 500 fund, the first index fund for individual investors. The next year he again broke from industry practice, selling mutual funds directly to investors rather than through brokers and thus eliminating the sales fees of up to 9 percent that funds typically charged.

“Our challenge at the time was to build, out of the ashes of a major corporate conflict, a new and better way of running a mutual fund complex,” Mr. Bogle said in 1985.

He officially stepped down as chief executive of Vanguard in 1996 and remained as chairman until the end of 1999.

Mr. Bogle married Eve Sherrerd in 1956. They had four daughters, Barbara Bogle Renninger, Jean Bogle, Nancy Bogle St. John, and Sandra Bogle Marucci; two sons, John Jr. and Andrew; 12 grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.

Mr. Bogle regularly gave half his salary to charities.

“My only regret about money,'’ he said in 2012, “is that I don’t have more to give away.”

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John Bogle, founder of Vanguard, dies at 89

WPVI logo

VALLEY FORGE, Pa. (WPVI) -- John C. Bogle, who simplified investing for the masses by launching the first index mutual fund and founded Vanguard Group, died Wednesday in Bryn Mawr, Montgomery County, the company said. He was 89.

Bogle did not invent the index fund, but he expanded access to no-frills, low-cost investing in 1976 when Vanguard introduced the first index fund for individual investors, rather than institutional clients.

The emergence of funds that passively tracked market indexes, like the Standard & Poor's 500, enabled investors to avoid the higher fees charged by professional fund managers who frequently fail to beat the market. More often than not, the higher operating expenses that fund managers pass on to their shareholders cancel out any edge they may achieve through expert stock-picking.

Bogle and Vanguard shook up the industry further in 1977. The company ended its reliance on outside brokers and instead began directly marketing its funds to investors without charging upfront fees known as sales loads.

john bogle age

Bogle served as Vanguard's chairman and CEO from its 1974 founding until 1996.

He stepped down as senior chairman in 2000, but remained a critic of the fund industry and Wall Street, writing books, delivering speeches and running the Bogle Financial Markets Research Center.

The advent of index funds accelerated a long-term decline in fund fees and fostered greater competition in the industry. Investors paid 40 percent less in fees for each dollar invested in stock mutual funds during 2017 than they did at the start of the millennium, for example. But Bogle continued to maintain that many funds were overcharging investors, and once called the industry "the poster-boy for one of the most baneful chapters in the modern history of capitalism."

Bogle also believed that the corporate structure of most fund companies poses an inherent conflict of interest, because a public fund company could put the interests of investors in its stock ahead of those owning shares of its mutual funds. Vanguard has a unique corporate structure in which its mutual funds and fund shareholders are the corporation's "owners." Profits are plowed back into the company's operations, and used to reduce fees.

"A lot of Wall Street is devoted to charging a lot for nothing," billionaire investor Warren Buffett told CNBC. "He charged nothing to accomplish a huge amount."

Vanguard, based in Malvern, manages $5 trillion globally. It helped usher in a new era of investing, and index funds have increasingly become the default choice for investors. In 2017, investors plugged $691.6 billion into index funds while pulling $7 billion out of actively managed funds, according to Morningstar.

Vanguard offers both index and managed funds, but remains best-known for its index offerings. Vanguard's original index fund, now known as the Vanguard 500 Index, is no longer the company's biggest, but remains among the company's lowest-cost funds.

Bogle spent the first part of his career at Wellington Management Co., a mutual fund company, then based in Philadelphia. He rose through the ranks and, in his mid-30s, was tapped to run Wellington.

He engineered a merger with a boutique firm that was making huge sums, but was ousted after the stock market tanked in the early 1970s, wiping out millions in Wellington's assets. He said he learned an important lesson in how little money managers really know about predicting the market.

Bogle suffered several heart attacks and underwent a heart transplant in 1996, the year he stepped down as CEO. He reached the mandatory retirement age of 70 for Vanguard directors in 1999 and left as senior chairman the next year.

Vanguard did not provide a cause of death. Philly.com is reporting he died of cancer, citing Bogle's family.

"Jack Bogle had unwavering passion for America, our capital markets, and most of all our Main Street investors," said Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton.

John Clifton Bogle was born in May 1929 in Montclair, New Jersey, to a well-off family; his grandfather founded a brick company and was co-founder of the American Can Co. in which his father worked.

Bogle attended Manasquan High School in Manasquan, N.J, for a time, then got a scholarship to the prestigious all-boys Blair Academy in Blairstown, New Jersey. It was at Blair that Bogle discovered his knack for math. He graduated from Blair in 1947 and was voted most likely to succeed.

Bogle graduated from Princeton with a degree in economics in 1951. His thesis was on the mutual fund industry, which was then still in its infancy.

Bogle is survived by his wife, Eve, six children, 12 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

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John C. (Jack) Bogle (1929 - 2019), after whom the Bogleheads® are named, was founder of the Vanguard Group and creator of the world's first retail index mutual fund . He wrote several investing books, and after retiring from the Vanguard Group in 2000, worked tirelessly as an investor advocate. He was president of the Bogle Financial Markets Research Center, whose website contained comprehensive biographical information , as well as a list of books authored and the texts of speeches delivered. [note 1] Among his latest books are The Clash of the Cultures: Investment vs. Speculation (2012) and Stay the Course (2018). John Bogle died on January 16, 2019.

Followers of John Bogle's investment philosophy admire him not just for his eloquence in tirelessly speaking and writing about the importance of fees and advantages of indexing , but in his conscious decision in the creation of The Vanguard Group not to enrich himself at the expense of consumers.

Vanguard is unusual among mutual fund companies since it is owned by the funds themselves. The company says that this structure better orients management towards shareholder interests. Other mutual fund sponsors are expected simultaneously to make a profit for their outside owners and provide the most cost-effective service to funds for their shareholders.

Early life and schooling

John C. Bogle was born on May 8, 1929 to William Yates Bogle, Jr. and Josephine Lorraine Hipkins in Montclair, New Jersey. The family's fortunes were wiped out during the Depression. During his childhood, John Bogle contributed to the family finances by delivering newspapers and magazines and working at an ice cream parlor. During his teens, he worked summers for the U.S post office.

John Bogle was educated at Blair Academy, where he graduated, cum laude, in May 1947. He attended Princeton University, where he graduated magna cum laude in Economics, due in part to a 123 page thesis, The Economic Role of the Investment Company . [1] [2] [note 2]

Business career

In June 1951, he joined the Wellington Management Company when he was hired by company founder Walter Morgan . Morgan transferred management of the company to John Bogle in 1965 by naming him executive vice president.

In 1966, John Bogle merged the company with the Boston based investment counseling firm of Thorndike, Doran, Paine and Lewis, managers of the Ivest Fund. A corporate dispute led to him being fired from the firm on January 23, 1974. He appealed to the Wellington Company's mutual funds' board of directors to retain him as the funds' chairman and CEO. The board agreed, and a settlement was reached whereby a new firm, Vanguard, was established (May 1, 1975). [1] [3]

Over the next two years John Bogle began to implement his vision of mutual fund management. The fledgling firm was established as a mutual organization, with the mutual funds (and by extension, fund shareholders) owning the management company. This structure is designed so that the management company can provide services to the funds at cost and conflicts of interest can be reduced. [4] [note 3] In 1976, he created the first index fund available to retail investors, Vanguard Index Trust (now known as Vanguard 500 Index Fund). In 1977, the firm abandoned broker distribution and moved to no-load fund distribution. The year also saw the creation of a series of defined maturity bond funds (short-term, intermediate-term, and long-term). [4]

John Bogle led Vanguard from 1975 to 1996. He remained a senior chairman of the firm until 2000 when, upon reaching mandatory retirement age, he stepped down from any management role. After retiring he founded the Bogle Financial Markets Research Center.

Writing career

In addition to his business career, John Bogle wrote extensively. He produced articles for The Journal of Portfolio Management and the Financial Analysts Journal.

In 1993, John Bogle published his first book, Bogle on Mutual Funds: New Perspectives for the Intelligent Investor . Ten additional books followed; one of which, Common Sense on Mutual Funds: New Imperatives for the Intelligent Investor (1999), received a fully updated anniversary edition in 2009.

In his books , John Bogle consistently argues for the superiority of index funds over actively managed funds and over the primacy of low cost investing. He argues that investors should simplify investment decisions; maintain a long term perspective on markets; and, having once established a diversified portfolio, remain disciplined by holding tight and staying the course. [5]

  • ↑ After John Bogle died, Vanguard stopped hosting the Bogle Financial Markets Research Center. Most of the information regarding John Bogle, including downloadable links to many of John Bogle's articles and speeches can be found at the Bogle eBlog .
  • ↑ The SEC gave final approval of Vanguard's mutual form of business organization in 1981. See The Culture That Gave Rise To The Current Financial Crisis , John C. Bogle.
  • The twelve pillars of wisdom
  • List of John C. Bogle books
  • List of John C. Bogle speeches
  • List of John C. Bogle academic papers and articles
  • List of John C. Bogle op-eds
  • List of John C. Bogle forum posts
  • ↑ 1.0 1.1 "John Bogle" . American National Business Hall of Fame . Retrieved June 2, 2023 .
  • ↑ Slater, Robert (October 1, 1996). John Bogle and the Vanguard Experiment . McGraw-Hill. pp. 1–7. ISBN   978-0-7863-0559-9 .
  • ↑ Slater, Robert (October 1, 1996). John Bogle and the Vanguard Experiment . McGraw-Hill. pp. 28–39. ISBN   978-0-7863-0559-9 .
  • ↑ 4.0 4.1 John Bogle (February 27, 2007). "Vanguard: Saga of Heroes" (PDF) . Retrieved June 2, 2023 .
  • ↑ Allen Roth (August 20, 2012). "John Bogle's 10 rules of investing" . CBS News . Retrieved June 2, 2023 .

External links

  • The Bogle eBlog , WordPress
  • Who Was John Bogle? , from Investopedia
  • John C. Bogle Papers , from Princeton University

John Bogle discusses his book, The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism , with Dean Lawrence R Velvel, July 1, 2009.

  • Articles with hCards
  • Bogleheads authors

John Bogle, who founded Vanguard and revolutionized retirement savings, dies at 89

Mr. Bogle pioneered low-cost, low-fee investing that was ridiculed at first, but would enable millions of ordinary Americans to build wealth.

Former Vanguard CEO John Bogle believed in the power of low fees, starting to invest early, and dispensing with active money managers.

John C. Bogle, 89, who revolutionized the way Americans save for the future, championed the interests of the small investor, and railed against corporate greed and the excesses of Wall Street, died of cancer Wednesday at his home in Bryn Mawr, his family confirmed.

Mr. Bogle, a chipper and unpretentious man who invited everyone to call him “Jack,” was founder and for many years chairman of the Vanguard Group, the Malvern-based mutual-fund company, where he pioneered low-cost, low-fee investing and mutual funds tied to stock-market indexes. These innovations, reviled and ridiculed at first, enabled millions of ordinary Americans to build wealth to buy a home, pay for college, and retire comfortably.

Along the way, Vanguard, which Mr. Bogle launched in 1974, became a titan in the financial-services industry, with 16,600 employees and over $5 trillion in assets by the end of 2018, and Mr. Bogle earned a reputation as not only an investing sage but a maverick whose integrity and old-fashioned values set an example that many admired and few could match.

“Jack could have been a multibillionaire on a par with Gates and Buffett,” said William Bernstein, an Oregon investment manager and author of 12 books on finance and economic history. 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.”

Mr. Bogle is the second financial titan from the region to die in the last three days. Raymond G. Perelman, the master deal-maker and philanthropist who gave away more than $300 million to the University of Pennsylvania and other causes, died Monday at his home in Philadelphia.

Like Perelman, Mr. Bogle carved a remarkable path. In 1999, Fortune named Mr. Bogle one of the investment industry’s four giants of the 20th century, and in 2004, Time listed him among the 100 most influential people in the world.

Motivated by a mix of pragmatism and idealism, Mr. Bogle was regarded by friends and foes alike as the conscience of the industry and the sheriff of Wall Street.

“He was like the last honorable man, a complete straight-shooter,” said Rick Stengel, former managing editor of Time and former president of the National Constitution Center, where he worked closely with Mr. Bogle, who then chaired the center’s board. He was fond of saying that “‘so-and-so is all hat and no cattle.’ Jack was all cattle and not very much hat.”

More than a successful businessman, Mr. Bogle was a capitalist with a soul.

“Whatever moral standards I may have developed over my long life, I have tried to invest my own soul and spirit in the character of the little firm that I founded all those years ago,” he wrote in his 2008 book, Enough: True Measures of Money, Business, and Life .

While Mr. Bogle was facile with numbers, he was much less interested in counting than in what counts, and his intellectual range was broad. He revered language, history, poetry, and classical wisdom, and frequently amazed and delighted people by reciting long passages of verse. He was the author of at least 10 books, mainly about investing — all of which he proudly wrote himself.

He was a social critic, civic leader, mentor, and philanthropist whose generosity to the institutions that shaped his character, notably Blair Academy and Princeton University, far outstripped his legendary frugality.

In his 70s, he displayed the energy of men half his age, and his pace and ambition were the more remarkable because of his lifelong battle with heart disease, the result of a congenital defect that affected the heart’s electrical current.

Mr. Bogle had his first heart attack in 1960, when he was only 30, and his heart stopped numerous times thereafter. When he was 37, his doctor advised him to retire. Mr. Bogle’s response was to switch doctors.

Mr. Bogle outlived three pacemakers, and kept a gym bag with a squash racket by his desk. In 1996, surgeons at Hahnemann University Hospital replaced his faulty heart with a strong one, ending a 128-day wait in the hospital. He reunited with his doctors years later .

With his new pump, Mr. Bogle experienced an adolescent surge of vitality that left associates panting to keep up.

“Jack operated at only two speeds, as fast as is humanly possible and stop,” said Paul Miller, the late private investor and founding partner of Miller Anderson & Sherrerd, who was a close friend of Mr. Bogle’s for decades.

“He was fiercely competitive when it counted, more intellectually alert than any person I’ve ever met, willing to face — indeed, almost court — controversy and criticism, stubborn but willing to compromise when absolutely necessary, and most importantly, loving, sentimental, kind, charitable, and courageous."

His greatest accomplishment, Mr. Bogle often said, was “putting the ‘mutual’ back in mutual funds.” His most important innovation was the index fund.

Mr. Bogle had long argued that a mutual fund representing a broad range of businesses — for instance, the Standard & Poor’s 500, an index containing the stocks of 500 large publicly held U.S. companies — would not only match the market’s average return but also generally surpass the performance of actively managed funds.

“You want to be average and then win by virtue of your costs,” Mr. Bogle said. “Cost is a handicap on the horse. If the jockey carries a lot of extra pounds, it’s very tough for the horse to win the race.”

That philosophy attracted a following, including a group of grateful devotees who called themselves the Bogleheads, and convened annually to swap investment advice and pay homage to the man who had done so much to nourish their portfolios.

“What impressed me most about Jack was his humility and approachability,” said Mel Lindauer, a leader of the Bogleheads and coauthor of The Bogleheads’ Guide to Investing . “His zeal for his mission of helping investors get a ‘fair shake’ was legendary. He worked tirelessly toward that goal, and his message never changed with the investing climate. The world won’t be the same without Jack. He was a true American hero.”

Mr. Bogle had hoped that the Vanguard model — “structurally correct, mathematically correct, and ethically correct” — would goad other investment firms to give customers a fairer shake. While index funds have become widely popular, Vanguard’s competitors often have been less than keen about following the company’s penny-pinching lead.

Nevertheless, Mr. Bogle, to use a pet phrase, “pressed on regardless.” After retiring as Vanguard's chairman and CEO in 1996 and its senior chairman in 2000, he became president of the Bogle Financial Markets Research Center, quartered in the Victory Building on the Vanguard campus.

When he was not touting the advantages of the Vanguard mode of investing, Mr. Bogle, a self-proclaimed “battler by nature,” was lambasting his professional brethren for “rank speculation,” reckless assumption of debt, “obscene” multimillion-dollar paychecks, and golden parachutes, and saying they had abdicated their duty as stewards in favor of self-interested salesmanship.

Along the way, Mr. Bogle attracted his share of critics. He was called a communist, a Marxist, a Bolshevik, a Calvinist scold and zealot, a holier-than-thou traitor and subversive who was undermining the pillars of capitalism with un-American rants.

Mr. Bogle characterized his pugnacious relationship with the financial industry as “a lover’s quarrel.” His mission, he said, was simple: to return capitalism, finance, and fund management to their roots in stewardship.

“He held our industry to a higher standard than it held itself, and I think a lot of people took umbrage at that,” said Arthur Zeikel, a former Merrill Lynch & Co. CEO who knew Mr. Bogle for decades.

“He never failed to mention, in speech after speech and talk after talk, that money managers had failed miserably to earn their high fees,” said Miller, the investment manager and longtime friend. “That he was correct in calling them the ‘croupiers at the gambling table’ did not endear him to the profession.”

“Simply put, Jack cared,” said William Bernstein. “He cared enough about his clients to personally answer their letters; he cared enough about his employees to be on a first-name basis with thousands of them, and to pitch in at the phone banks when things got busy; and in the end, he cared enough about his country that he spent much of his last two decades away from home tirelessly crusading against an increasingly elephantine and dysfunctional financial system.”

John Clifton Bogle early realized the value of a penny. His grandfather, a prosperous merchant, founded a company that became part of the American Can Co., and Mr. Bogle’s early years in Montclair, N.J., were affluent. But the Great Depression eventually erased the family fortune. Mr. Bogle’s father, an improvident charmer, was ill-equipped to cope. The Bogles lost their home and were forced to move in with relatives.

Mr. Bogle was proud of the many jobs he held in his youth — newspaper delivery boy, waiter, ticket seller, mail clerk, cub reporter, runner for a brokerage house, pinsetter in a bowling alley.

“I grew up in the best possible way,” Mr. Bogle said in 2008, “because we had social standing — I never thought I was inferior to anybody because we didn’t have any money — but I had to work for everything I got.”

Mr. Bogle attended Blair Academy in northwestern New Jersey, where he blossomed academically. From there, he went to Princeton, which offered him a full scholarship and a job waiting tables in the dining hall. At first, Mr. Bogle floundered, and his low grades in economics, his major, almost cost him his scholarship. But he applied himself and slowly mastered the demands.

In December 1949, while leafing through Fortune, he happened upon an article about the embryonic mutual-fund industry, and Mr. Bogle developed the topic for his senior thesis.

Mr. Bogle produced a scholarly opus that proved to be a blueprint for his career. “The principal function of mutual funds is the management of their investment portfolios,” Mr. Bogle wrote. “Everything else is incidental.... Future industry growth can be maximized by a reduction of sales loads and management fees.”

The thesis earned Mr. Bogle a top grade, and he graduated magna cum laude. After he sent a copy to Walter Morgan, Class of 1920 and founder of the Wellington Fund, based in Philadelphia, Morgan hired Mr. Bogle. In short order, Morgan became Mr. Bogle’s mentor. In early 1965, when Mr. Bogle was only 35, Morgan anointed him his successor.

Headstrong and impulsive, Mr. Bogle arranged a merger with high-flying investment managers in Boston. For six go-go years, the partnership flourished, but when stock prices plunged in 1974, Mr. Bogle was fired.

Refusing to surrender, Mr. Bogle persuaded the board of Wellington to split from the management company that canned him and appoint him to administer the funds at cost, thereby saving a bundle in fees.

Inspired by the 1798 Battle of the Nile, during which Lord Horatio Nelson sank the French fleet, snuffing Napoleon’s dream of world conquest, Mr. Bogle chose the name Vanguard after Nelson’s flagship.

“I wanted to send a message that our battle-hardened Vanguard Group would be victorious in the mutual fund wars,” Bogle wrote in Enough, “and that our ‘vanguard’ would be, as the dictionary says, ‘the leader in a new trend.’ ”

Now one of the world’s largest investment-management companies, Vanguard vies with BlackRock and Fidelity Investments for the title of biggest mutual-fund group.

If Vanguard runs a tight ship, it’s a direct reflection of its founder. When traveling, Mr. Bogle usually took the train or flew coach. From the station or airport, he walked to his destination rather than taking a cab, or hailed a cab rather than riding in a limo, even in his 70s.

When he was president of the Constitution Center, Stengel regularly met Mr. Bogle for power breakfasts at one of Mr. Bogle’s favorite eateries, Benny’s Place at Fourth and Chestnut Streets. There, Mr. Bogle ordered his customary breakfast of two eggs over easy, fried potatoes, two slices of rye toast and coffee, all of which he consumed, Stengel recalled, in an “incredibly systematic” way. Price: $3.60. Said Stengel: “I often felt compelled to leave an extra tip so the waitress wouldn’t feel shortchanged.”

Bill Falloon, an editor at John Wiley & Sons, remembers when Mr. Bogle visited the publisher’s Park Avenue office for a marketing strategy meeting about Mr. Bogle’s The Little Book of Common Sense Investing.

Weary from the train trip, Mr. Bogle asked where he could catnap. There was no bed or couch, he was informed. Not to worry, Mr. Bogle said. Just find me a room.

“So he walked into this little office and pushed a chair over so its back was on the floor,” Falloon recalls. “And then he stretched out and put his head on the back rest.”

Before nodding off, Mr. Bogle issued instructions: “If anybody wonders what I’m doing, tell them I’m dead.”

Mr. Bogle’s children recalled growing up in a drafty house in Haverford where the thermostat was set low in winter and they piled into their parents’ bedroom on steamy summer nights because it was the only spot with an air conditioner.

“He wore the same wool ties and suits forever,” said son Andrew Armstrong Bogle. “He had no desire to be ostentatious, and he didn’t hang out with just investment titans. He was just as comfortable, if not more so, with someone whose cab he happened to get into, talking to people in the subway or to a waiter at the Princeton Club. He genuinely liked talking to people and hearing their stories.”

While Mr. Bogle may have been cheap in the transactions of daily life, he was remarkably generous in a grand way. For more than 20 years, he donated half his annual income to philanthropic causes, particularly those institutions that helped develop his mind and form his character.

At Blair, Mr. Bogle chaired the board of trustees, chose the headmaster, and helped finance the construction of several buildings.

“He was like a surrogate father to me,” said former headmaster Chan Hardwick. “He told me the most important thing in a relationship is trust, and trust is based on honesty. After he hired me, he said, ‘You’re going to make mistakes. There will be things you’ll do that you’ll wish you hadn’t, and things you won’t do that you’ll wish you had. If you’re honest with me, I’ll support you fully.’ ”

At Blair and Princeton, Bogle endowed the Bogle Brothers Scholarships, which enabled scores of budding scholars to further their education. His twin brother David died in 1995.

“He took chances on people because someone took a chance on him,” said Stengel. “Much of his own altruism stems from the fact that he was a scholarship kid.”

“It will surprise no one who knew Jack that he directed his support to financial aid and promoting community service,” said former Princeton president Shirley Tilghman. “He served his university on many occasions — from leading the Class of 1951 at its 25th reunion to advising the Princeton University Investment Co.”

Mr. Bogle’s philanthropy reflected his belief that to whom much is given, much is expected.

Two of his children followed his example of service in an obvious way. His daughter Barbara Bogle Renninger served on the board of the Gesu School in North Philadelphia, where she was also a volunteer math tutor; his son Andrew was a patron of Robin Hood, a philanthropic organization established by investment bankers and hedge-fund managers to alleviate poverty in New York City.

“When we were growing up, we were told that we’re very fortunate in so many ways and that we were expected to give back,” Andrew Bogle recalled. “We could choose our own way of contributing, whether it be time or money or just our thoughts, but we knew that the default option is that you're going to give back.”

Disengaging himself from guiding Vanguard and forging a new role for himself was challenging for Mr. Bogle, who was dismayed by the rift that developed between him and the man he had groomed to succeed him, John J. Brennan. Mr. Bogle was incapable of retirement.

Although he played no role in managing Vanguard after 2000, he continued to show up every weekday, usually in suit and tie and shined shoes, to discharge his duties as president of the Bogle Financial Markets Research Center. He wrote articles, speeches, and books, answered questions from investors, granted interviews to reporters, and continued to cultivate and encourage members of Vanguard’s “crew” while keeping a three-person staff busy.

“In a lot of ways, the last decade, an extra decade of my life, has been the happiest of my life,” Mr. Bogle said in 2008. “I’m contributing to society. I’m doing what I want to do. I’m writing what I want and saying what I want, and I think my name and reputation, for whatever that’s worth, have been enhanced.”

Mr. Bogle wasn’t afraid to criticize his own index fund creation — which he wrote may have grown too large. In an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal in 2018, he warned that the concentration of ownership created by indexing firms presented a threat to the markets.

Three index fund managers dominate the field with a collective 81 percent share of index fund assets: Vanguard has a 51 percent share; BlackRock 21 percent; and State Street Global 9 percent.

“Most observers expect that the share of corporate ownership by index funds will continue to grow over the next decade. It seems only a matter of time until index mutual funds cross the 50 percent mark. If that were to happen, the ‘Big Three’ might own 30 percent or more of the U.S. stock market — effective control. I do not believe that such concentration would serve the national interest,” he wrote.

Another institution that benefited tremendously from Mr. Bogle’s involvement was the Constitution Center, whose board he chaired from 1999 to 2007.

“Introducing the center to the nation with Mr. Bogle as chairman was a huge advantage,” said Joe Torsella, the center’s president at the time and now Pennsylvania treasurer. “It declared to the outside world that we were national and bipartisan, and aspired to the highest level of excellence.”

Mr. Bogle served on numerous boards during his career, including the board of governors of the Investment Company Institute, which he chaired in 1969 to 1970. He was also a fellow of the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He received honorary degrees from a dozen universities, including his alma mater, which also bestowed on him its highest accolade, the Woodrow Wilson Award, for “distinguished achievement in the nation’s service.”

In addition to squash, Mr. Bogle enjoyed tennis and golf, sailing, and summering at Lake Placid, N.Y. He kept his wits sharp by daily attacking the New York Times crossword puzzle, which he was known to complete in less than 20 minutes.

Mr. Bogle especially loved to write. Most recently, he published Stay the Course: The Story of Vanguard and the Index Revolution ” (Wiley, 2018).

“I don’t think there’s an author who spent greater care on the words he chose,” said Falloon, the Wiley editor who worked with Mr. Bogle. “When he did a book, he was so meticulous; he’d rewrite and rewrite. He always went the extra mile to make sure there wasn’t a single person who could not understand what he was saying.”

Despite the heavy demands on his time, Mr. Bogle put his family first. When his children were growing up, he was almost always home for dinner.

“This was our time to talk to each other and find out what was going on in each other’s lives,” Andrew Bogle recalled. “Looking back now, I find it remarkable that he was able to work as hard as he did but still say, ‘This is a priority and what I’m going to do — be home every night.’”

Another family rite revolved around the Fourth of July, a holiday that evoked Mr. Bogle’s strong sense of patriotism. Children and grandchildren gathered at the family camp on Lake Placid. They sang patriotic songs (Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” was a favorite), and Mr. Bogle raised a toast to the country of which he was so proud.

“My dad may have seemed like a hard-charging businessman, but underneath there was real emotion and care and concern and empathy,” said daughter Barbara. “Even as he became more prominent, he did not change within the family. He remained a man without pretense and pomposity.

“When he had the heart transplant, it changed him dramatically. He became much more connected to the family. He was very emotional, and teared up easily over things. He was literally reborn, and he really appreciated the chance of having a second go at life.”

A man who believed in the value of introspection and who was always questioning his own motives and behavior, Mr. Bogle sought to define what it means to lead a good life. It was not about wealth, power, fame and other conventional notions of success, he concluded.

“It’s about being a good husband, a good father, a good colleague, a good member of the community. Everything else pales by comparison. The accumulation of material goods is a waste — you can’t take them with you, anyway — and the waste is typified by our financial system. The essential message is, stop focusing on self and start thinking about service to others.”

In addition to his son and daughter, Mr. Bogle is survived by his wife, the former Eve Sherrerd, whom he married in 1956; children Jeanne Bogle England, Nancy Bogle St. John, Sandra Hipkins Bogle, and John C. Bogle Jr.; and at least 12 grandchildren.

A private service will be held next week.

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Why Vanguard’s Jack Bogle was a punk

A new book shows just how radical Bogle was – and that his true legacy is the company’s mutual ownership, not its beloved index funds.

For the past decade, while cryptocurrencies, Federal Reserve policy, meme stocks and Elon Musk have captured all the headlines, investors have been quietly funnelling a billion dollars a day into the greatest money-transfer machine in the history of capitalism: Vanguard .

Yet, the company shouldn’t even exist. An asset manager owned by its investors? That invests in passive indexes? That charges only microscopic fees? That’s made millions of Americans fabulously wealthy and bankrolled countless retirements without succumbing to Wall Street?

john bogle age

A young John Bogle, before he revolutionised asset management.  

The money manager now has more than $US8 trillion ($11 trillion) in assets – second only to BlackRock , which it could surpass in a few years – as well as the three biggest funds in the world and another three in the top 10. Vanguard’s influence extends well beyond the numbers on any scoreboard. The entire investing universe now bends towards the company’s headquarters in sleepy Malvern, Pennsylvania.

The reason for Vanguard’s quiet dominance is both its unusual ownership structure and the unusual structure of its founder, John “Jack” Bogle, who died in 2019 at age 89 . As an exchange-traded funds analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence, I spoke with Bogle many times, including in an interview six months before his death, with Joel Weber, the editor of Bloomberg Businessweek , for our Trillions podcast. My study of Bogle and Vanguard culminates with my coming book, The Bogle Effect .

john bogle age

Bogle may have looked like a friendly grandfather, but throughout his career, the words that left his mouth were utterly punk rock.   Bloomberg

Perhaps the most astonishing fact about Vanguard is that, though it manages more than a quarter of the assets in the entire fund industry, it accounts for only 5 per cent of the industry’s revenue. Bogle’s net worth was about $US80 million when he died, a fraction of what his peers in finance had amassed. “In the history of Wall Street,” Michael Lewis, author of Liar’s Poker and The Big Short , told me, “the ratio of money touched to money taken was never so high.”

Bogle may have looked like a friendly grandfather, but throughout his career the words that left his mouth (and some that filled his bestselling investing books) were utterly punk rock. His TV hits on business networks were mostly about the futility of trying to pick stocks or time the market. He’d give a speech at an ETF conference about why ETFs were awful, or trash active management at a conference for fund managers. He could be savage and stubborn; he received the boot at the only other place he ever worked, Wellington, and late in his career also tangled with Vanguard’s management.

A better world

Bogle’s story might seem like ancient history, or like it lacks a dramatic arc, yet it’s about what’s to come in finance – a future full of conflict and consequence. He was so hardcore that his dream remains far from complete.

“The first sign that Vanguard’s mission has created a better world for the investor will be when our market share begins to erode,” Bogle told employees in a 1991 speech, when the company had less than 1 per cent of its assets today. For Vanguard, success meant forcing other money managers to follow its lead in cutting costs and putting customers’ interests first.

Bogle shared something else with punk: the concept of addition by subtraction.

As Johnny Ramone once described the genre to Rolling Stone : “What we did was take out everything we didn’t like about rock ‘n’ roll and use the rest, so there would be no blues influence, no long guitar solos, nothing that would get in the way of the songs.” Punk rock was, as the magazine had previously written, “a negation, a call to stark, brutal simplicity”,

john bogle age

John Bogle testifies before a Senate subcommittee in Washington in 2004.   Bloomberg

If that doesn’t describe Bogle’s life’s work – and a low-cost index fund – I don’t know what does.

He built an entire genre of investing by trying to eliminate everything that gets in the way of investors getting a fair share of returns, including management fees, brokers, turnover, trading costs, market timing and human emotion. The company he founded would actually be owned by the mutual funds it managed – and in turn by their shareholders – so its chief incentive would be to get more and more efficient and leave more money in clients’ pockets.

john bogle age

“The Bogle Effect” by Eric Balchunas will be published in Australia this month.  

Bogle knew Vanguard’s customer-owned structure would, over time, lower costs to the point that investors would beat a path to the company’s door. And they did. That structure, paired with Bogle’s contrarian attitude, has already saved investors about $US1 trillion.

But what many financial professionals and investors don’t realise, and what I document in my book, is that index funds were merely a byproduct of Vanguard’s unique ownership structure and arguably get too much credit for the index fund revolution.

In the end, the funds needed Vanguard more than Vanguard needed them – the two just happened to be a perfect match.

Great cost migration

And what about the company’s market share, which is fast approaching 30 per cent of US fund assets? While critics of Vanguard – and passive funds in general – contend that index investing will suffer without an easy Federal Reserve monetary policy fuelling a long, boring bull market, it’s more likely that Vanguard’s market share will grow even faster in a bear market.

Even this year, as markets have wobbled with the Fed’s hawkish turn, Vanguard took in $US71 billion in the first quarter; the rest of the asset management industry, combined, saw about $US30 billion in outflows. This same pattern – well-disciplined Vanguard investors leaning in while everyone else leans out – has been seen in each sell-off of the past 15 years.

Without the subsidy provided by a bull market, increases in assets will come mainly from investment flows rather than price gains. It’s possible Vanguard could end up managing half of America’s fund assets before we see the erosion Bogle foreshadowed.

The Bogle effect means asset management will see more consolidation – and perhaps much more. In his interview for Trillions , Bogle said many will become so desperate that they’ll choose to “mutualise” just as Vanguard did.

The thought of BlackRock, Fidelity, Charles Schwab, JPMorgan Chase or Goldman Sachs mutualising is about as radical as it gets on Wall Street.

But going toe-to-toe with Vanguard will force companies to jettison their fees in a race to the bottom. The only way to slow the company down – and this is the existential threat facing Wall Street in the coming decades – is to offer funds that earn no revenue. The “better world” Bogle envisioned for investors creates a hellscape for the financial industry.

This “great cost migration” isn’t limited to funds or asset management, either. Cost compression follows wherever Vanguard goes.

The advisory business, where the company already has about $US300 billion in assets and employs more than 1000 certified financial planners, seems to be next. International markets, institutional clients, private equity and alternatives – maybe even crypto – could eventually become Vanguard victims. In a world overflowing with paths to a cheap market return, asset managers must find ways to add value by complementing index funds.

The good news for Wall Street is that, even in a Vanguardian future, a portion of flows will still want to chase performance with something besides an index. Thematic investing and high-octane stock picking both accomplish this feat.

The Bogle effect is, ironically, a big reason behind the staying power of Cathie Wood, the risk-taking manager of the ARK funds. Bogle’s success and legacy weren’t built on playing the game well, but rather on changing the entire game – to the benefit of investors.

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Thoughts from the founder of the Vanguard Group of Investment Companies

john bogle age

John C. Bogle, 82, is Founder of The Vanguard Group, Inc., and President of Vanguard’s Bogle Financial Markets Research Center. He created Vanguard in 1974 and served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer until 1996 and Senior Chairman until 2000. He had been associated with a predecessor company since 1951, immediately following his graduation from Princeton University, magna cum laude in Economics. He is a graduate of Blair Academy, Class of 1947.The Vanguard Group is the largest mutual fund organization in the world. Headquartered in Malvern, Pennsylvania, Vanguard comprises more than 160 mutual funds with current assets totaling more than $1.4 trillion. Vanguard 500 Index Fund, the largest fund in the group, was founded by Mr. Bogle in 1975. It was the first index mutual fund.

In 2004, TIME magazine named Mr. Bogle as one of the world’s 100 most powerful and influential people and Institutional Investor presented him with its Lifetime Achievement Award. In 1999, FORTUNE designated him as one of the investment industry’s four “Giants of the 20th Century.” In the same year, he received the Woodrow Wilson Award from Princeton University for “distinguished achievement in the nation’s service.” In 1997, he was named one of the “Financial Leaders of the 20th Century” in Leadership in Financial Services (Macmillan Press Ltd., 1997).

In 1998, Mr. Bogle was presented the Award for Professional Excellence from the Association for Investment Management and Research, and in 1999 he was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Fixed Income Analysts Society, Inc. In 1993, he received the Philadelphia Investment Achievement Award from the Financial Analysts of Philadelphia.

Mr. Bogle is a best selling author, beginning with his first book, Bogle on Mutual Funds: New Perspectives for the Intelligent Investor (Irwin Professional Publishing, 1993). Irwin is also the publisher of John Bogle and the Vanguard Experiment: One Man’s Quest to Transform the Mutual Fund Industry , by Robert Slater (1996). Common Sense on Mutual Funds: New Imperatives for the Intelligent Investor (John Wiley & Sons, 1999), John Bogle on Investing: The First 50 Years (McGraw-Hill, 2000). Character Counts: The Creation and Building of The Vanguard Group (McGraw-Hill, 2002). The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism (Yale University Press, 2005). The Little Book of Common Sense Investing (2007); Enough: True Measure of Money, Business, and Life (2008); Common Sense on Mutual Funds, Fully Updated 10th Anniversary Edition (2009). His ninth book, Don’t Count On It! Reflections on Investment Illusions, Capitalism, “Mutual” Funds, Indexing, Entrepreneurship, Idealism, and Heroes , was published by John Wiley in October 2010.

Mr. Bogle served as Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Investment Company Institute in 1969-1970, and as a member of the Board from 1969-1974. In 1997, he was appointed by then-U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Arthur Levitt to serve on the Independence Standards Board. In 2000, he was named by the Commonwealth’s Chamber of Commerce as Pennsylvania’s Business Leader of the Year.

He has served as Chairman of the Board of the National Constitution Center from 1999 to 2007, and was a Director of Instinct Corporation, a member of The Conference Board’s Commission on Public Trust and Private Enterprise, and a member of the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. A Trustee of Blair Academy, he served as Chairman from 1986-2001. He also served on the Investment Committee of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. He has received honorary doctorate degrees from Princeton University, University of Delaware, University of Rochester, New School University, Susquehanna University, Eastern University, Widener University, Albright College, Pennsylvania State University, Drexel University, Immaculata University, Georgetown University, Trinity College and Villanova University.

Mr. Bogle was born in Montclair, New Jersey, on May 8, 1929. He now resides in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, with his wife, Eve. They are the parents of six children and the grandparents of twelve.

In Memoriam – John C Bogle

Memo to veterans and principals, joim speech, cfa conference speech.

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A Mutual Fund Master, Too Worried to Rest

john bogle age

By Jeff Sommer

  • Aug. 11, 2012

VANGUARD, the penny-pinching mutual fund company founded by John C. Bogle, has become a colossus. Its index funds — once derided for not even trying to beat the market — are now the industry standard.

And after at least six heart attacks and one heart transplant, Mr. Bogle has managed to witness this triumph. “It’s all a kind of a miracle,” he says in a booming baritone. “It’s really nice that I’m able to see this happen in my own lifetime.”

With this kind of medical history, any other man of 83 might simply enjoy his success. But not John Bogle. He is still on a mission, as outspoken as ever and nearly as vigorous — thanks, he says, to the heart of a younger man. He’s not done yet.

“It’s urgent that people wake up,” he says. Why? This is the worst time for investors that he has ever seen — and after more than 60 years in the business, that’s saying a lot.

Start with the economy, the ultimate source of long-term stock market returns. “The economy has clouds hovering over it,” Mr. Bogle says. “And the financial system has been damaged. The risk of a black-swan event — of something unlikely but apocalyptic — is small, but it’s real.”

Even so, he says, long-term investors must hold stocks, because risky as the market may be, it is still likely to produce better returns than the alternatives.

“Wise investors won’t try to outsmart the market,” he says. “They’ll buy index funds for the long term, and they’ll diversify.

“But diversify into what? They need alternatives, bonds, for the most part. What’s so frightening right now is that the alternatives to equities are so poor.”

In the financial crises of the last several years, he says, investors have flocked to seemingly safe government bonds, driving up prices and driving down yields. The Federal Reserve and other central banks have been pushing down interest rates, too.

But low yields today predict low returns later, he says, and “the outlook for bonds over the next decade is really terrible.”

Dark as this outlook may be, he says, people need to “stay the course” if they are to have hope of buying homes or putting children through college or retiring in comfort.

He is still preaching the gospel of long-term, low-cost investing. “My ideas are very simple,” he says: “In investing, you get what you don’t pay for. Costs matter. So intelligent investors will use low-cost index funds to build a diversified portfolio of stocks and bonds, and they will stay the course. And they won’t be foolish enough to think that they can consistently outsmart the market.”

Still, because the market and the economy are deeply troubled, it’s time for action on many fronts, he says: “We’ve really got no choice. We’ve got to fix this system. All of us, as individuals, need to do it.”

That’s the message of his latest and 11th book, “The Clash of the Cultures: Investment vs. Speculation” (Wiley & Sons, $29.95). It offers a scathing critique of the financial services industry and updated guidance for investors. “A culture of short-term speculation has run rampant,” he writes, “superseding the culture of long-term investment that was dominant earlier in the post-World War II era.”

Too much money is aimed at short-term speculation — the seeking of quick profit with little concern for the future. The financial system has been wounded by a flood of so-called innovations that merely promote hyper-rapid trading, market timing and shortsighted corporate maneuvering. Individual investors are being shortchanged, he writes.

Corporate money is flooding into political campaigns. The American retirement system faces a train wreck. America’s fundamental values are threatened. Mr. Bogle remains a dyed-in-the-wool capitalist but says the system has “gotten out of balance,” threatening our entire society. “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing — after they’ve tried everything else,” he says, quoting Winston Churchill. Now, he says, it’s time to try something else.

He advocates taxes to discourage short-term speculation. He wants limits on leverage, transparency for financial derivatives, stricter punishments for financial crimes and, perhaps most urgently, a unified fiduciary standard for all money managers: “A fiduciary standard means, basically, put the interests of the client first. No excuses. Period.”

Those clients — the ordinary people to whom he has always appealed — need to protect themselves from peril, he says: “In an ideal world, Adam Smith-like, individuals would recognize what they need to do in their own self-interest, and they will make changes happen and look after themselves.”

MR. BOGLE sometimes disagrees with current Vanguard management, but he remains proud of the company he created. Index funds are ever more popular, and Vanguard is gushing money, torrents of it. Thanks largely to its various index funds, Vanguard, which is based near Valley Forge, Pa., pulled in a net $87.7 billion in cash this year through June, excluding money market funds. That’s nearly 40 percent of the cash flow of the entire mutual fund industry.

Burton Malkiel, the Princeton economist and author of “A Random Walk Down Wall Street,” says: “Index funds are so popular now that it’s easy to forget how courageous and tenacious Jack Bogle was in starting them. They were called Bogle’s Folly because all they did was replicate the returns of the market. But, of course, that’s a great deal. In the academic world many people saw the wisdom of this — but Jack is the guy who actually made it happen.”

Mr. Bogle also tried to ensure that Vanguard funds would always be cheap to buy and hold. While Vanguard is his baby, he has never had an ownership stake in it aside from the shares he holds in its mutual funds. Vanguard fund shareholders own the place collectively because he planned it that way.

“Strategy follows structure,” he says, explaining that with no parent company or private owners to siphon profits, Vanguard can keep costs lower than anyone else. That was always his goal. “The only way anyone can really compete with us on costs is to adopt a mutual ownership structure,” he says. “I’ve been waiting all these years for someone to do it, but no one has.”

One reason is surely that there’s no profit in it. Despite Vanguard’s size and success, Mr. Bogle is no billionaire. For comparison, Forbes lists the personal wealth of Edward C. Johnson 3rd, the chairman of Fidelity, as $5.8 billion. By contrast, Mr. Bogle says his own wealth is in the “low double-digit millions.” Most of it is in Vanguard and Wellington mutual funds in which he invested via payroll deduction during his long career.

During his peak earning years at Vanguard, he regularly gave half his salary to charities, including two alma maters — the Blair Academy, a prep school in Blairstown, N.J., and Princeton University. He was a scholarship student at both, holding down part-time jobs to help pay his way. At Princeton, in a senior thesis, he sketched the rough outlines of the cost-cutting, shareholder-serving company that would become Vanguard.

Mr. Bogle continues to make donations to several causes. “My only regret about money is that I don’t have more to give away,” he says.

WHILE he has no operational role at Vanguard, he hasn’t entirely left it. He works on its campus, heading the Bogle Financial Markets Research Center , a small research institute that provides him with a bully pulpit, which he tries to use in the energetic mode of his hero, Theodore Roosevelt. “There aren’t many of us Roosevelt Republicans left,” he said.

Mr. Bogle may be a Republican, but he voted for Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, and plans to vote for Mr. Obama again. He says government regulation of the financial industry is insufficient, and he endorses the Volcker Rule, named for his friend, Paul A. Volcker, the former Fed chairman, who says regulated banks shouldn’t be making risky bets with their own money.

Mr. Volcker, in turn, embraces Mr. Bogle’s critique of the financial services industry. At a public forum held in Manhattan last winter to celebrate Mr. Bogle’s legacy, Mr. Volcker said that the only unequivocally good financial innovation out of Wall Street in the last 25 years was the bank A.T.M. (If he went back 40 years, Mr. Volcker said, he would include Mr. Bogle’s invention of the index fund.) And Mr. Volcker said that a unified fiduciary standard “is an excellent solution.”

The research institute is financed by Vanguard but is independent, allowing Mr. Bogle to write books and make fiery speeches that sometimes differ from Vanguard policies.

At the moment, for example, he supports a crucial part of a Securities and Exchange Commission proposal to tighten rules on money market funds. “Investors shouldn’t be misled into believing these funds are as safe as a bank account,” he says. “They’re not.”

In 2008, one fund, Reserve Primary, “broke the buck,” falling below the $1-a-share asset value that money market funds have traditionally maintained. That set off a panic and the government intervened. To prevent future crises, Mary L. Schapiro, the S.E.C. chairwoman, would require funds to let their net asset values float — so that $1 invested in a fund might be worth 99 cents.

Vanguard sides with other big firms like Charles Schwab and Fidelity in trying to block the proposal, which is set for a vote on Aug. 29. Allowing shares to float would “require significant, and expensive, changes” and would put off investors, many of whom would shift assets from firms like Vanguard into banks, Vanguard said in a filing.

Mr. Bogle sides with Ms. Schapiro and differs with Vanguard on that point. “A lot of things that are disruptive have to be done anyway, and this is one of them,” he says. “Mary Schapiro has a lot of courage in trying to do it.”

MR. BOGLE moved to the institute after leaving the company’s board in 1999 amid a conflict with John J. Brennan, his handpicked successor and second in command. Mr. Brennan, who has said little about the issue in public and declined to comment for this article, has since been succeeded by F. William McNabb III.

Mr. Bogle’s health was precarious in the 1990s. By 1996, when he relinquished his role as C.E.O. to Mr. Brennan, he had already had at least six heart attacks and was mortally ill, according to two people then at Vanguard. “At that point Jack Bogle couldn’t walk slowly across a room without getting out of breath,” one of those officials said. “Jack’s heart was failing. Either he’d get a transplant or basically have to say goodbye to the world.”

The transplant in early 1996 was spectacularly successful. “Physically, Jack was born again,” the official said. “That was wonderful. But it made things very complicated at Vanguard.”

Mr. Bogle had hired Mr. Brennan in 1982, and they worked together amicably for more than a decade. “The two Jacks are very different types,” said one Vanguard veteran, speaking on condition of anonymity because the issue is still sensitive within the company. “Jack Brennan is Mr. Inside, an operations man who doesn’t particularly like talking to journalists, and Jack Bogle is Mr. Outside, the ultimate marketer.” For a long while, it seemed to be a good match.

But things changed after Mr. Bogle returned with a new heart and renewed vigor. Now with the title of “senior chairman,” Mr. Bogle found that he disagreed with some of Mr. Brennan’s decisions, and said so openly. He criticized Mr. Brennan’s interest in starting narrowly focused sector equity funds. Mr. Bogle also worried that Vanguard was beginning to emphasize the sale of funds through investment advisers, these people said. Direct sales to investors had been a principal low-cost innovation in the company’s early days.

In 1999, as tensions rose, Mr. Bogle was asked to leave the board at the mandatory age of 70. “I thought there would be an exception for the company’s founder,” he says. The dispute became public, and the board offered to let Mr. Bogle extend his term. But he moved to the new research institute, which has been his base ever since.

Several Vanguard insiders say that after this, Mr. Brennan habitually walked past his former boss, rather than say hello . Journalists witnessed such scenes. Today, Mr. Bogle says he is puzzled by Mr. Brennan’s behavior.

Soon, contrary to Mr. Bogle’s advice, Vanguard began selling exchange-traded funds, or E.T.F.’s — index funds that may be bought or sold throughout the trading day. For years, Mr. Bogle had opposed this move, saying E.T.F.’s enable frequent trading, which generally hurts individual investors. He compared the innovation to “giving an arsonist a match.”

Now Mr. Bogle says that some E.T.F.’s, like those that mimic core Vanguard index funds, are fine if used carefully by buy-and-hold investors or by institutional investors for specific purposes. But he warns that they are dangerous for investors because many E.T.F.’s track relatively obscure sections of the market and all of them encourage the propensity to trade rapidly — “to speculate, rather than invest.”

In a telephone interview, Mr. McNabb, Vanguard’s current chief executive and chairman, wouldn’t comment on the Brennan-Bogle relationship. He praised both men, saying, for example, that Mr. Brennan’s introduction of E.T.F.’s expanded Vanguard’s influence and, therefore, Mr. Bogle’s legacy.

“We revere Jack Bogle here,” Mr. McNabb said. “Everybody can quote his sayings. He laid out a vision for the company and set up an ownership structure unlike anything the industry had ever seen.”

Mr. McNabb added: “We live and breathe the fact that we’re client-owned, that we’re built for the long-term, and that we serve only one constituency, our clients, who are also our owners. That’s all Jack Bogle.”

For his part, Mr. Bogle says the company embodies his ideas. Current executives are making “hard decisions and doing a good job and doing it very sincerely.” But, he adds, “I think it’s good that I have an independent voice.”

ON the Vanguard campus, on a lawn near the cafeteria, stands a 7-foot-high bronze statue of Mr. Bogle.

He is sheepish about it. “I’m not sure we should’ve done it, but there it is,” he says. “It’s a good likeness, isn’t it?”

Indeed, it is. Thomas J. Warren, the sculptor who created it in 1996, said the Vanguard board commissioned the statue when Mr. Bogle was ill, and that he became stronger as work proceeded.

“Mr. Bogle was very humble about it,” Mr. Warren says. “I went out to his house to ‘live cast’ his face one day, and I was late. He was dressed for a board meeting, but he was very gracious and got down on the kitchen floor, and we made the mold.” Mr. Bogle asked him not to prettify his image. “Mr. Bogle has arthritis, but he told me to go ahead and show him the way he really is, so the fingers on the statue are gnarled.”

One day earlier this year in the company cafeteria — the “galley,” as it’s called at the nautically themed Vanguard — Mr. Bogle ordered a grilled cheese sandwich and chatted with an endless stream of young well-wishers. On the walls were murals embellished with quotations from his speeches:

“Like a rock.”

“Even one person can make a difference.”

“Press on regardless.”

“Success must not be bought but earned.” And, of course, there is another, which may be his favorite. “Stay the course,” Mr. Bogle says.

An article last Sunday about John C. Bogle, founder of the Vanguard Group, misidentified the Fidelity Investments executive whom Forbes magazine has listed as having personal wealth of $5.8 billion. He is Edward C. Johnson 3rd, not Edward C. Johnson 2nd, who led Fidelity for nearly 30 years and died in 1984. The article also misstated Edward C. Johnson 3rd’s roles at the company. He remains chairman and chief executive; he did not give up the chairman’s post last year.

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Investigations

There is little scrutiny of 'natural' deaths behind bars.

Headshot of Tirzah Christopher

Tirzah Christopher

john bogle age

Autopsies are not required for federal prison deaths that are classified as natural. NPR found cases where medical neglect, poor prison conditions and a lack of resources contributed to these deaths. But families were given little information. Dion MBD for NPR hide caption

Autopsies are not required for federal prison deaths that are classified as natural. NPR found cases where medical neglect, poor prison conditions and a lack of resources contributed to these deaths. But families were given little information.

Kesha Jackson was preparing for her husband, John, to be home in a few weeks. He was incarcerated in Forrest City federal prison in Arkansas, awaiting a court hearing for early release after 18 years. But then Jackson got a concerning call from other inmates.

Her husband, in the special housing unit, was going in and out of consciousness, the inmates told her. He tried banging on the door for help. Three days later, an officer handcuffed him and tried to give him CPR.

He died soon after. And as she waited for some explanation, Jackson was surprised to learn what prison officials pronounced as the manner of death: "natural."

By deeming the death natural, prison authorities were not required to conduct an autopsy for Jackson's death. It's how they characterize at least three-quarters of all federal prison deaths since 2009, yet NPR has found "natural" deaths with details that raise questions for family members.

"When his medical records came home after he passed away, I saw that it was MRSA," Jackson said.

john bogle age

Kesha Jackson was expecting her husband, John, to return from prison when she received a concerning call from other inmates. Her husband, in the special housing unit, was going in and out of consciousness, the inmates told her. Nate Smallwood for NPR hide caption

Kesha Jackson was expecting her husband, John, to return from prison when she received a concerning call from other inmates. Her husband, in the special housing unit, was going in and out of consciousness, the inmates told her.

MRSA is a staph infection — caused by a type of dangerous, drug-resistant bacteria. But it is not generally fatal if treated immediately. John contracted it after he was moved to the Forrest City federal prison in 2017. According to his medical records, he still had the infection over two years later.

"Saying that it's a natural death can sometimes be misleading because I believe that having the proper medical treatment could have possibly saved his life," Jackson said.

The CDC says natural deaths happen either solely or almost entirely because of disease or old age. Yet 70% of the inmates who died in federal prison the last 13 years were under the age of 65. After speaking to some of the families of these inmates, NPR found that potential issues such as medical neglect, poor prison conditions and a lack of health care resources were left unexplained once a "natural" death designation ended hopes of an investigation. Meanwhile, family members were left with little information about their loved one's death.

In Jackson's case, she called the prison for six hours before she got a response. A correctional officer told her that the warden was in a meeting about her husband and she would get a call back. She says she never did.

"The prison doesn't have to contact family members unless it's a matter of life and death, I guess," Jackson said. "Well he's dead, so where was the contact? I should have been contacted as soon as there was an incident."

Jackson remembers multiple calls with her husband where he complained about the lack of hygiene and cleanliness in the prison. He complained of an infected wound in his calf and was asked to wait more than a week for medical attention. After the wound burst in the shower, he was hospitalized for a day and a half and got diagnosed with MRSA. But he wasn't given medication regularly. He bought aspirin from the commissary and drank lots of water, according to Jackson.

Homer Venters, a federal court monitor of jail and prison health care, calls deaths like Jackson's "jail attributable."

He says this is when "things that happened behind bars significantly contributed to the outcome of death, despite the fact that a medical examiner ultimately says it was a natural-causes death. This is a very common problem and it's a commonly missed source of the health risks of incarceration."

Venters says that calling a death natural often does not provide a full picture.

"So we have this very old, antiquated idea that the coroner or medical examiner, when they say a death was from natural causes or from homicide, that that should somehow determine whether or not people got what they needed behind bars," Venters said.

john bogle age

Jackson looks through a family photo album from visits to her late husband, John Jackson, while he was in prison. Nate Smallwood for NPR hide caption

Jackson looks through a family photo album from visits to her late husband, John Jackson, while he was in prison.

The Office of Inspector General for the Bureau of Prisons recently launched an investigation into all non-natural federal inmate deaths in custody from 2014 to 2021. Natural deaths are not included in this investigation.

But NPR spoke with multiple families of inmates who died natural deaths who believed their loved one's death warrants scrutiny. For instance: an inmate in a prison medical center in Springfield, Mo., waited weeks to be treated for bleeding in his digestive tract. He died soon after hospitalization. An inmate in Arkansas complained of stomach pain for a year and a half before his death. His family was not provided with any more details.

Another inmate in Missouri died of respiratory failure, and his death was pronounced natural. But according to medical examiner records obtained by NPR, his death was later treated as a homicide. His family found out about this information for the first time from NPR.

1 in 4 inmate deaths happens in the same federal prison. Why?

1 in 4 inmate deaths happens in the same federal prison. Why?

Lawmakers push for federal prison oversight after reports of inadequate medical care

Lawmakers push for federal prison oversight after reports of inadequate medical care

Andrea Armstrong, a professor at the Loyola University New Orleans College of Law who researches prison and jail conditions, says that categorizing natural deaths differently could make a change.

"It helps us figure out which of these deaths were influenced and, in fact, more likely to be preventable if they had more timely action and intervention," Armstrong said. "Just saying natural causes obscures the role that medical care that was provided within the facility played in the death and to what extent that actually complied with community standards of care."

On a Sunday morning in March, Celia Wilson got a Facebook message from an unknown account. It was about her brother, Lenny Wilson, and turned out to be from his prison cellmate.

The message said her brother "was running on the track and collapsed" and then was taken to a hospital. After Wilson tried for several hours to get hold of a prison official, she called three hospitals in the surrounding area before she found one that confirmed her brother had been admitted there.

The first call she got from the Bureau of Prisons came two days later, from her brother's case manager. He told her not to worry.

"He said that my brother is communicating and we think he's going to be just fine," Wilson said. "We were so relieved at that point. And we all sit down, write letters, get him letters in the mail that day."

But Alison Guernsey, Wilson's attorney and also a clinical professor at the University of Iowa, found different information in his medical records.

"Celia [Wilson] would say they think that there's signs of life and maybe vitals are getting better. And then we would ask for those medical records and they wouldn't actually say that," Guernsey said.

She had to file public records requests every day for updates on Lenny Wilson's health after the collapse.

"It was quite difficult to get someone from the Bureau of Prisons to actually tell us what was going on," Guernsey said.

Two weeks after his collapse, Wilson's brother died. His death was pronounced natural.

"They wouldn't give us any information while he was in the hospital," Wilson said. "I just received a call on Easter Sunday morning that he had passed."

Wilson later was told by her brother's cellmate that he had not received help for almost 10 minutes after his collapse. She is still waiting to receive his autopsy report.

"Everybody says that it's someone else's job to make sure things happen," Wilson said. "But I can tell you that I am so exhausted from doing this and beating my head against a wall and trying to get just something, give us something so that we can attempt to start to put closure."

john bogle age

Jackson's reflection is seen on a portrait of her late husband. John Jackson died of a staph infection he contracted while in prison; his records said his death was "natural." Nate Smallwood for NPR hide caption

Jackson's reflection is seen on a portrait of her late husband. John Jackson died of a staph infection he contracted while in prison; his records said his death was "natural."

Currently, autopsies are not required for federal prison deaths that are pronounced natural, unless deemed necessary by the warden. However, the Bureau of Prisons does submit a multilevel mortality review report to the Office of Quality Management, which is meant to summarize how the death was handled. This report is not provided to the public or the families of the inmates. NPR submitted a public records request for all mortality review reports since 2009 and has yet to receive them.

The BOP declined NPR's request for an interview but said that all deaths are investigated thoroughly. A spokesperson also said that there are detailed procedures to notify family members after an inmate's death.

Wilson, who worked in corrections for 20 years, said she believes the BOP could have done more.

"I still work in government, and this is not the system I know," Wilson said. "My brother didn't deserve to die in prison."

Robert Little edited this story. Noah Caldwell produced it. Additional data analysis by Nick McMillan and Dan Wood. Photo editing by Emily Bogle.

  • prison medical care
  • Federal Bureau of Prisons

IMAGES

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COMMENTS

  1. John C. Bogle

    Early Life John Bogle was born on May 8, 1929, in Montclair, New Jersey, [4] to William Yates Bogle, Jr., and Josephine Lorraine Hipkins. [5] His family was harmed by the Great Depression. They lost their money and had to sell their home. His father fell into alcoholism, which resulted in his parents' divorce. [6]

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  5. Vanguard Announces The Passing Of Founder John C. Bogle

    Pressroom home Vanguard Announces The Passing Of Founder John C. Bogle VALLEY FORGE, PA (January 16, 2019)—Vanguard announces the passing of John Clifton Bogle, founder of The Vanguard Group, who died today in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. He was 89.

  6. John Bogle, Vanguard Founder Who Urged Low Fees, Dies at 89

    He suffered the first of at least six heart attacks at age 31. In 1967 he had a pacemaker installed, and in 1996 he received a heart transplant. ... John Bogle Jr. is a limited partner at Bogle ...

  7. John Bogle, founder of Vanguard, dies at 89

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    January 16, 2019. By Elizabeth MacBride. John "Jack" Bogle, the man who introduced low-cost, passive investments to the mutual fund industry and helped millions of small investors send their ...

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    Vanguard Group founder and investing pioneer John C. Bogle has died at age 89. Bogle served as Vanguard's chairman and CEO from its 1974 founding until 1996. Bogle is survived by his wife, Eve ...

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    John Bogle, who created the first index fund in 1975 and founded The Vanguard Group, died Wednesday at the age of 89. Bogle is legend in the investing world for inventing a low-cost way for...

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    John C. "Jack" Bogle, a legendary but plainspoken figure on Wall Street whose creation of index funds at Vanguard Group transformed the way many Americans invest, died of cancer at age 89, the ...

  13. John Bogle, Vanguard founder and low-cost investing pioneer ...

    Business John Bogle, Vanguard founder and low-cost investing pioneer, dies at 89 By Ross Kerber January 16, 20194:43 PM PSTUpdated 5 years ago FILE PHOTO: Jack Bogle, founder and retired CEO of...

  14. John Bogle, Vanguard founder, dies at 89

    By Edward Wyatt New York Times,January 16, 2019, 6:05 p.m. Vanguard Group founder and investing pioneer John C. Bogle has died at age 89, according to the company. Mark Lennihan/Associated Press ...

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  16. John Bogle, founder of Vanguard, dies at 89

    John Bogle, investing pioneer and founder of Vanguard Group, who brought index funds to millions of investors, dies at age 89, the company says.

  17. John Bogle

    View history From Bogleheads John C. (Jack) Bogle (1929 - 2019), after whom the Bogleheads® are named, was founder of the Vanguard Group and creator of the world's first retail index mutual fund. He wrote several investing books, and after retiring from the Vanguard Group in 2000, worked tirelessly as an investor advocate.

  18. John Bogle, who founded Vanguard and revolutionized retirement savings

    John C. Bogle, 89, who revolutionized the way Americans save for the future, championed the interests of the small investor, and railed against corporate greed and the excesses of Wall Street, died of cancer Wednesday at his home in Bryn Mawr, his family confirmed. ... In his 70s, he displayed the energy of men half his age, and his pace and ...

  19. The Things John Bogle Taught Us: Humility, Ethics and Simplicity

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  20. John Bogle dies from cancer 2019 at age 89

    John Bogle (1929-2019), founder of the Vanguard Group ... Pennsylvania at the age of 89. What we'll remember: John Bogle turned his misfortune of being fired from his first job out of college ...

  21. John Bogle: How the Vanguard founder changed the investing universe

    A young John Bogle, before he revolutionised asset management. ... John "Jack" Bogle, who died in 2019 at age 89. As an exchange-traded funds analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence, I spoke with ...

  22. Biography

    John C. Bogle, 82, is Founder of The Vanguard Group, Inc., and President of Vanguard's Bogle Financial Markets Research Center. He created Vanguard in 1974 and served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer until 1996 and Senior Chairman until 2000.

  23. John Bogle, Vanguard's Founder, Is Too Worried to Rest

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  25. Young people are dying 'natural deaths' in prisons : NPR

    The CDC says natural deaths happen either solely or almost entirely because of disease or old age. Yet 70% of the inmates who died in federal prison the last 13 years were under the age of 65.