The only mutually-owned mutual fund firm, the Vanguard Group of Mutual Funds is known for its index funds and low-cost actively managed funds. Typically, its actively managed funds rely on subadvisors for their portfolio management. Its ownership structure, use of subadvisors and scale as an indexer have enabled Vanguard to build a reputation as the lowest cost mutual fund provider while propelling it to become (by 2015, if not earlier), in the words of one industry watcher, "the most dominant fund company in history." As of the end of 2016, that dominance shows now signs of slowing down.
That low-cost philosophy has dictated aspects of Vanguard's strategic evolution. Because its funds carry no distribution fees or 12b-1 charges, it does not pay revenue sharing to distribution partners. In the 401(k) market, Vanguard traditionally limited offering its recordkeeping services to the large plan market where plans are sold directly. Yet Vanguard now also partners with Ascensus to reach small market 401(k) plans via TPAs and advisors.
On the retail side of its business, its funds carry larger-than-average minimum purchase requirements as its low revenue per dollar of AUM make very small accounts unprofitable.
Vanguard's roots date to 1928 when Walter L. Morgan founded the Wellington Fund. Vanguard itself was founded by John "Jack" Bogle in September 1974 to act as the advisor to the Wellington Fund. In January of that year Wellington Management had fired Bogle as its CEO and president. However, the independent board of the Wellington Funds had voted to retain Bogle as the mutual funds chairman.
Bogle brought his vision of low cost investing and indexing along with an innovative ownership structure to what he called his "Vanguard experiment". Since its founding Vanguard has been mutually owned by the shareholders in the mutual funds that it sponsors. That ownership structure remains unique among major fund firms.
Its first mutual fund was the Vanguard Wellington Fund for which Wellington served as the subadvisor.
Vanguard did not launch its first index fund -- First Index Investment Trust (now Index 500) -- until 1976, nearly two years after its founding.
Vanguard hires subadvisors to manage its non-indexed funds.
In 1977 Vanguard dropped sales-loads on its funds and adopted a direct-sold distribution strategy. That year it also adopted a "defined maturity" structure for its bond funds, dividing its funds into short, intermediate and long-term portfolios. A year later it began managing a portion of its fixed income investments in-house rather than through a subadvisor.
In 2000, Vanguard created the Admiral share class to pass on the lower costs of administering large balance accounts to those shareholders.
Jack Brennan took the CEO reins from Bogle in 1999. William McNabb succeeded Brennan as CEO at the end of August 2008.
Employees at Vanguard are known as "crew" members and the fund firm's headquarters is known as the "shipyard" and even the dining rooms are known as "galleys". The motif and Vanguard's name derives from Lord Horatio Nelson's fleet at the battle of the Nile. Nelson's flagship at the battle was theHMS Vanguard.
The low-cost juggernaut now manages over $3.5 trillion as of June 30, 2016.
Tim Buckley President, Chief Investment Officer, CEO-Elect, The Vanguard Group
Bill McNabb Chairman, Outgoing CEO, The Vanguard Group
Tom Rampulla Managing Director, Head of U.S. Financial Intermediaries Business, Vanguard
Martha King Managing Director, Institutional Investor Group, Vanguard
Chris McIsaac Managing Director, Planning and Development Group, Vanguard Group, The
Karin Risi Managing Director, Retail Investor Group, Vanguard Group, The
Anne Robinson General Counsel, Vanguard Group, The
Mike Rollings Chief Financial Officer, Managing Director of the Finance Division, Vanguard Group, The
Jim Norris Managing Director of International Operations, The Vanguard Group
Glenn Reed Managing Director, Strategy Division, The Vanguard Group
Kathy Gubanich Managing Director, Human Resources, The Vanguard Group
Pauline Scalvino Head of Corporate Strategy, Vanguard
Melissa Nassar Principal, Retail Investor Services: Business Development Group, Vanguard
John Marcante Head of Information Technology, Vanguard Group, The