CEO gets social with fans

Posted by on January 27, 2012 @ 9:30 am in Investing

As you probably know, Bill McNabb, our chairman and chief executive officer, spent part of Monday, January 23, interacting with Vanguard clients via social media—”taking over” our Twitter and Facebook channels.

“It’s not every day that a CEO reaches out to their client-base. The information has been valuable,” wrote one fan.

“Why not get social every day?” another fan commented.

Actually, it’s not all that uncommon for Bill to interact with clients. It’s part of Vanguard’s culture.

Bill’s been talking to clients for years as CEO and, before that, as leader of divisions that serve our clients. Each year, he spends much of his time on the road meeting with clients, and when he’s “home” at his office in Malvern, Pennsylvania, he’s connecting with clients via e-mail, letters, or over the phone.

Vanguard has always been a “virtual” company—not wishing to burden clients with the expense of a national network of branch offices. So it’s always been vital to have other ways to stay in touch with our investors—hearing their concerns, viewpoints, and questions. This is especially true in periods when economic and financial market conditions are so uncertain.

The response on Monday from fans and followers weighing in on our social channels was overwhelmingly positive.

“Congratulations for stepping out and connecting with your customers this way,” one fan wrote on Vanguard’s Facebook wall. “You are setting a great example for the rest of the industry. Who says financial firms don’t get social business?!”

“This honesty and transparency are exactly what I, a young investor, want to see from a company that I’m considering making my investment company for life,” another fan wrote.

Although we operate virtually, Bill and other leaders of the company do attend in-person meetings with clients at various spots around the nation and world. Bill also hears directly from clients by taking calls as part of our Swiss Army (our internal “reserve unit” of crew who help out on the phones or in processing transactions during especially busy periods). Those old “social media” forms of interaction will continue, of course, along with corresponding with clients via e-mails and letters. And now—based on the reaction from Vanguard investors (and the boss!)—it looks as if the “social media day” will be repeated too.

“The questions that have come in have just been terrific,” Mr. McNabb said in a video that was posted on Facebook. “They really help us understand what’s on your mind as clients. I can assure you I will be back doing this again.”

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