Thank You, John C. Bogle

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Vanguard announced on January 16, 2019 that its founder, John C. Bogle, passed away on at his home in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania at 89 years old. There will no doubt be many tributes; here are a few same-day articles from WSJ, Bloomberg, Reuters, and great tweet from Morgan Housel.

Jack Bogle was a champion of thrift, simplicity, and keeping investing costs low. While he reached the popularity level where people would write entire columns about “Why Bogle is Wrong about This or That”, I was always annoyed when people would pick at one little thing he said. I felt that his strongest message was that of common sense. Sometimes it took multiple readings and time, but he really offered a lot of valuable, reasoned knowledge in his books. Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote about my Jack Bogle Appreciation curve:

boglecurve

My first mutual fund investment was in the Janus Mercury fund in the very early 2000s. I was chasing performance and Morningstar ratings, and the fund was actively managed with high turnover and high expenses. Thanks to reading his books, my subsequent investments were in low-cost Vanguard funds that were available to a DIY investor. You can now buy ultra-cheap commission-free ETFs from nearly every brokerage account. New investors may take this for granted, but I’m old enough to remember that this was not always the case! This was solely due to Vanguard’s success:

vanguardbarr

He created a unique structure where the unnecessary “Helper” fees stayed in the pockets of the people who invested with Vanguard (and indirectly anyone who invests in a low-cost index fund today). This has resulted in an estimated $1 trillion saved by average everyday investors.

Today, my family is financially secure and we have a pretty clear plan for the future as well. The majority of my net worth is held at Vanguard. My life was materially improved by a man that I never got the honor to meet. The best I could do was to win a personally-signed book from a charity auction for his foundation.

Thank you, Mr. Bogle. I will try my best to heed your advice.

p.s. If you do not know that I am talking about, please do yourself a favor and read The Little Book of Common Sense Investing from the library or buy a copy. It is very short and a good place to start.

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Comments

  1. Excellent tribute. I owe him a debt as well. I know John Bogle wasn’t exactly famous or a celebrity, but that autographed book is a treasure and a good reminder of what he did for investors the world around.
    “He’s the biggest undercover philanthropist of all time.” – M.H.

  2. The Frugal Millionaire says:

    I started investing in mutual funds in 1993. I subscribed to Morningstar, and thought I was clever by buying the previous years’ “winners”.
    Around that time my employer started offering a 401k plan, administered by Vanguard, and of course, offering Vanguard funds exclusively. As a participant I learned the importance of low fees, active vs. passive investing, and was always impressed with their customer service.
    Over time I transferred all of our retirement assets to Vanguard, a decision I never regretted. One thing I do regret is that I never wrote him the short “Thank You” note I had intended to. I’m no investing genius, all I did was follow his advice…but that turned out to be good enough.
    R.I.P. Jack, and thank you!

  3. Wonderfully put. I’m not as far along in my journey, but the philosophies of Jack Bogle and blogs like this have helped me create a beautiful life for myself and my family.

  4. Nice tribute and very cool that you got a signed book from him. Whether someone is an index fund proponent or not, he dramatically changed the industry and helped a lot of ‘average’ people become wealthy. RIP!

  5. Another beautiful article about Bogle.
    He was a true visionary – He knew the deeper values of life and not just financial life.

    https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-01-17/jack-bogle-showed-enriching-lives-goes-beyond-riches

  6. I became a believer in Mr. Bogle’s low fees mantra after i got into investing and did a ton of reading (and lots of CNBC watching back then). Saw him at an investment conference once maybe early 2000s, should have gotten a book signed or something. Anyway, my rollover/Roth IRAs have been with Vanguard for a while now. Thanks to Mr. Bogle

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