When most advisors hear Jack Bogle’s name, they likely think of mutual fund giant Vanguard Group, which he founded in 1974, serving as CEO and chairman of the board until he retired in 2000; or perhaps of his 1999 best-selling book “Common Sense on Mutual Funds: New Imperatives for the Intelligent Investor.” In either case, they probably associate Bogle with index funds—particularly the Vanguard S&P 500 Index Fund, upon which Vanguard built its success. What many younger advisors today may not know is that in 1975, Bogle’s S&P 500 fund was the first index mutual fund.
Few advisors realize that Bogle was a lot more than just the “index” guy. He created Vanguard to be owned by investors in its mutual funds. Consequently, the company has always been managed for the benefit of investors, largely by keeping company expenses low, as well as the loads, costs and turnover in Vanguard’s funds, which were the first no-load funds. Bogle was also the first “Occupy Wall Street” reformer, some 40 years ahead of today’s younger activists, pioneering “corporate governance” by using Vanguard’s investment muscle as well as his own bully pulpit to influence management of large corporations to act more in the interests of their shareholders—and society as a whole.
You’ll find all this and a whole lot more in a new book titled “The Man in the Arena: Vanguard Founder John C. Bogle and His Lifelong Battle to Serve Investors First,” edited by Knut Rostad and published in December by Wiley. To his great credit, rather than simply describing Bogle’s legacy in his words, Rostad does something infinitely more powerful and fitting to Bogle’s accomplishments: He captures Bogle’s greatness in his own words, and in what many others have said and written about Bogle over the years.
Rostad contributed a fair amount of writing himself, masterfully setting up each of the seven chapters, which include contributions on Bogle’s leadership in index investing, corporate governance and fiduciary service, as well as letters to Bogle, forewords written for his many books and a collection of Bogle’s own essays. Taken together, “The Man in the Arena” provides a unique insight into the life and work of a genuine American hero.
Here’s how Rostad summed up Bogle’s far-reaching contributions in his introduction: “Vanguard and indexing are, no doubt, business successes. But they are much more. They are innovations that transformed individual investing to benefit millions of investors. How transformative? Nobel laureate Paul Samuelson put it simply when he compared the index fund to the invention of the wheel and the Gutenberg printing press … Much commentary on Jack Bogle is noteworthy for its sheer intensity. From Vanguard shareholders and crew members [how Vanguard refers to its employees] to colleagues and leaders in academia and financial regulation, the messengers are ardent, their messages clear: Jack Bogle—entrepreneur, visionary, fighter, industry reformer—evokes intense passion.”