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John Bogle: Champion of the “small investor”, exemplar of “Purpose/Profits”

A rare testament for a business leader  — or for anyone:

John C. (Jack) Bogle (1930 -2019)

Many others never met him, but remember the moment his investment and life philosophies clicked … help[ing] put billions more dollars in the pockets of millions of people.” Jeff Sommer, New York Times.

John Bogle created The Vanguard Group, the low-cost mutual index fund owned by its shareholders – rank-and-file investors. That democratic corporate structure precluded his accumulating great wealth as he “built something bigger than personal wealth, a reasonable way for great masses of people to get a more equitable share of the world’s financial pile.” (Sommer).

“Enough” – the title of one of his books – was the guiding principle of his financial decisions as well as his character and  personal life.

Over the decades, in contrasting Vanguard with traditional Wall Street stock-picking investing, his motto was, “In investing, you get what you don’t pay for.”

Today, low investment, simple-index funds abound.

And today, there are impressive variations  – derivatives? – of the Bogle investment philosophy: The burgeoning social/sustainable investment movement; and “purpose ” as well as profit in managing companies. They come at a time when another Bogle hallmark, putting the client first, is under duress in Trump-inspired proposals for loosening investment counselors’ fiduciary responsibilities.

Perhaps the highest praise of John Bogle comes from none other than Warren Buffet:

 “Jack did more for American investors as a whole than any individual I’ve known.”