Vanguard founder and index fund ‘hero’ Jack Bogle dies

Bogle, known as the ‘father of the index fund’, started his investment career at Philadelphia-based investment management firm Wellington Management Company and worked in several departments before becoming assistant to the president in 1955.

He formed Vanguard in September 1974, and in 1976 the firm introduced the first index mutual fund – First Index Investment Trust – for individual investors.

While the fund collected a mere $11 million during its initial launch, it is now known as the Vanguard 500 Index fund, one of the industry’s largest, with $401 billion in assets.

‘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,’ Vanguard chief executive Tim Buckley said. 

‘He was a tremendously intelligent, driven, and talented visionary whose ideas completely changed the way we invest. We are honoured to continue his legacy of giving every investor ‘a fair shake.’

Bogle had been suffering from declining health in recent years, often making trips to the hospital. He received a heart transplant in 1996 after suffering several heart attacks.

Despite his health difficulties, Bogle remained an active commentator on the world of investment. His November 2018 guest column in the Wall Street Journal warning of the danger of concentrating shareholder voting power in the hands of a select few index fund managers sparked conversation across the money management industry.

Bogle, author of 13 books on investing, was a big proponent of buying and holding the stock market for the long term. Followers of his investment philosophy, the most ardent of whom who call themselves Bogleheads, have an entire website based on his investing advice

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Even the world’s most famous investor, Warren Buffett, held Bogle in the highest regard. In his annual letter to investors in 2017, Buffett praised Bogle as a ‘hero’ for protecting millions of investors from the high costs associated with active fund management.

‘If a statue is ever erected to honour the person who has done the most for American investors, the hands-down choice should be Jack Bogle,’ Buffett wrote. ‘In his early years, Jack was frequently mocked by the investment-management industry. Today, however, he has the satisfaction of knowing that he helped millions of investors realise far better returns on their savings than they otherwise would have earned. He is a hero to them and to me.’

Commentators on Twitter were quick to pay tribute:


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