The Wisdom of John Bogle
Nowadays, when one thinks of professions, the role of “investor” does not leap to mind. Nor, for that matter, does banker or financial analyst or other roles that entail the accumulation, deployment, or investment of funds or other forms of capital.
The situation used to be different. Indeed, in the middle of the 20th century, the local banker or investment counselor was seen as an individual—indeed, usually the representative of a small bank in the community or an individual practitioner. And it was generally assumed that this investor’s primary obligations were to the individual over whose funds he or she had stewardship.
One of my heroes—and the hero of millions of investors worldwide—is John Bogle, founder of The Vanguard Group and creator of the first index mutual fund that was available to the general public. In his essay “Balancing Professional Values and Business Values,” Bogle cites the examples of Adam Smith, the 18th century polymath, and Benjamin Graham, the 20th century scholar of economics and investment, to remind us of the ethical precepts that should guide the thought and action of investors today. And he draws on an article about the professions, published a dozen years ago by Lee Shulman and me.
Writers rarely know whether their writings are noticed, and, if so, by whom and with what effect. I was deeply honored when John Bogle, vigorous at 89, sent me his fine essay, along with a personal note.