A few years ago, while buying wine for a friend’s party, I found a reasonably priced cabernet sauvignon produced by Bogle Vineyards. I work at Vanguard. How could I resist? A clerk assessed my selection and, I kid you not, pronounced it a “good value.”
What’s in a name?
In the past year, Vanguard crew members (as we call ourselves) have labored in Vanguard’s figurative vineyards, founded by a different Bogle some 40 years ago, to produce “good value” for the millions of investors who are saving for a secure retirement, a child’s education, or any of the other financial goals that lead to a better life.
We’ve uncorked new services. We’ve decanted expense ratio reductions. We’ve added new funds to the Vanguard cellar. And we’ve enhanced one of our most popular blends, the Vanguard Target Retirement Funds—diversified portfolios of index fund “varietals” that help working Americans prepare for life beyond the 9 to 5.
New notes in a well-balanced blend
At the end of 2014, 45% of the participants in retirement plans administered by Vanguard invested solely in a target date fund such as a Vanguard Target Retirement Fund or other professionally managed asset allocation. In 2009, the total was just 25%.
This change has helped address a big problem in workplace plans: inadequate diversification. The same participants whose portfolios once held all cash, all stock, or all company stock now diversify across global stock and bond markets, with portfolio risk levels calibrated to their expected retirement dates.
In February, Vanguard’s vintners increased the Target Retirement Funds’ allocation to non-U.S. stock and bond market varietals. The greater diversification is intended to moderate the funds’ expected volatility while preserving their expected returns. The new blend adds notes of opportunity and undertones of noncorrelation to a series of funds that has helped retirement savers diversify their portfolios since 2003.
Our new sommelier
Vanguard’s cellar includes more than the Target Retirement Funds, of course. We offer sturdy, broad-market index funds, lively sector index funds, and actively managed funds with idiosyncratic bouquets.
How to find the best complements to your own financial goals? In 2015, Vanguard introduced Personal Advisor Services (PAS). Our new sommelier, a combination of information-age efficiency and old-school humanity, can help you select and manage a portfolio of funds tailored to your unique circumstances and objectives. And like a good sommelier, PAS has many skills. It also provides insight and advice on a full menu of financial-planning considerations—tax-management strategies, estate-planning, and more.
I’m enthusiastic about this service. I know my way around a spreadsheet. I can read an actuarial table. I have colleagues, skilled in factor-augmented vector autoregression, who commandeer the Vanguard Capital Markets Model. But still . . . When it comes time to figure out how to make my savings last for decades in retirement, I will seek assistance from a professional who has helped clients like me grapple with the same challenge.
We all have financial goals, and the Vanguard vineyards offer a variety of funds and services that can help us meet them. So how about a toast? I have just the wine.
Thanks to Christine Kim for her help with this post.
Investments in Target Retirement Funds are subject to the risks of their underlying funds. The year in the Fund name refers to the approximate year (the target date) when an investor in the Fund would retire and leave the work force. The Fund will gradually shift its emphasis from more aggressive investments to more conservative ones based on its target date. An investment in the Target Retirement Fund is not guaranteed at any time, including on or after the target date.
Advisory services are provided by Vanguard Advisers, Inc. (VAI), a registered investment advisor.