The last words of General of the Army Douglas MacArthur’s farewell speech at West Point went like this: “…when I cross the river, my last conscious thoughts will be of the Corps, the Corps, the Corps.”
It wouldn’t surprise me if when John Bogle gives his farewell speech—which I hope is years away—his coda will be “The client. The client. The client.”
I had the honor of participating in the John C. Bogle Legacy Forum, which was organized by the Institute for the Fiduciary Standard, on Jan. 31 at the Museum of American Finance in lower Manhattan. The day-long event featured a fireside chat between Paul Volcker and Mr. Bogle and a panel that included no less than three former SEC Chairmen—Harvey Pitt, Arthur Levitt and David Ruder—and Tim Ryan of SIFMA. There was a who’s-who conclave of investment gurus moderated by Roger Ibbotson that included Burton Malkiel of Princeton, David Swenson of Yale and Vanguard CIO Gus Sauter. Gary Gensler of the CFTC spoke. The final session was a scintillating discussion of the impact of John Bogle’s writings. (OK, I was the moderator of that final session, so consider the source of the term “scintillating.”)
What I found striking was that among these titans of Wall St., of academia and financial services, Bogle stood out for one trait in particular: He kept talking about clients, about end investors, kept bringing around the conversation to how the actions of the academics and the regulators and the mutual fund industry affect the American investor.