John C. “Jack” Bogle, the founder of Vanguard, the largest employer in Chester County, died Wednesday at his home in Bryn Mawr. He was 89.
Bogle did not come from wealth. Born in 1929 in Montclair, N.J., he saw his family lose much of its money during the Great Depression, which made his story of success all the more remarkable.
Bogle was a such a giant in his field that his death resonates beyond the investment industry. He created the world’s first index mutual fund, paving the way for his Malvern-based firm to have more assets under management today (approximately $5 trillion) than the American government spends in a year.
National Public Radio described Bogle as “the George Washington of an investing revolution.”
Warren Buffett, perhaps the most famous investor in the world, called Bogle “a hero.”
“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 in his annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders in early 2017. “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.”
When he honored Bogle in 2017, Buffett said that “Jack, at a minimum, has left in the pockets of investors tens and tens of billions, and those numbers are going to be hundreds and hundreds of billions over time.”
Vanguard CEO Tim Buckley called his predecessor “a visionary.”
“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 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.’”
CNN dubbed Bogle “the Father of the Index Fund” who “brought investing to the masses,” while Christine Benz, Morningstar’s director of personal finance, called him “the conscience of the financial services industry.”
Dennis Kelleher, president of Better Markets, a nonprofit promoting the public interest in financial markets, may have put Bogle’s contributions into the best perspective.
“Freeing everyday Americans from relentless and usually empty broker sales pitches, (Bogle) enabled tens of millions of people to get the benefit of compound returns while avoiding the tyranny of fees,” Kelleher said.
Rick Stengel, a former managing editor of Time magazine, called Bogle “a complete straight-shooter.”
“He was like the last honorable man,” Stengel said. He liked to say that “‘so-and-so is all hat and no cattle.’ Jack was all cattle and not very much hat.”
Pennsylvania State Treasurer Joe Torsella also praised Bogle in a statement released earlier on Thursday.
“He was the brilliant force behind products that made investing simpler, better, and far, far less expensive to millions of Americans,” Torsella said. “He made his money by being an innovator, when he could have made billions in the high-fee investing world he stepped into and sought to change. But he grew up with little, felt he had plenty, and wanted others to have more.
“He built an engine of low-cost wealth creation for the middle class. He helped build a temple to an American democracy he felt privileged to be a part of.”