As I recently walked into Vanguard’s newly dedicated John C. Bogle Building, I recalled my own orientation in that building when I joined Vanguard in 2011. The training I received that day took my appreciation of my employer and our unique mission to a new level.

Our CEO, Tim Buckley, often says that Vanguard’s mission to give investors the best chance for investment success is “in our DNA.” I connect with that sentiment and the Vanguard story both personally and professionally.

The past: A lesson in the power of purpose

My connections with Vanguard go back many years. My grandmother dropped out of school at age 13 to help care for her father and brothers after her mother died. Neither she nor my grandfather ever earned a college degree. While they didn’t have the benefit of large incomes, they came of age during the Great Depression and so knew the value of working hard, spending only as needed, avoiding debt, and putting away whatever they could in their savings account.

One of their children, my Uncle Dan, became an early convert to the Vanguard way of investing. He convinced my grandparents to move money from their bank savings account into some of the earliest Vanguard funds. These investments helped them achieve financial security for the rest of their long lives (85 and 101!).

I never forgot the lesson of how a purpose-driven company impacted their lives, which is why I jumped at the chance to join Vanguard after working as a lawyer and policy professional for many years in Washington, D.C.

I had represented various financial institutions, including Vanguard, and noticed striking differences.

Senior leaders at other financial institutions enjoyed company planes, cars, and executive dining rooms. But the Vanguard approach was simple and modest and rejected such perks as an unwise use of clients’ money. Our CEO ate in the galleys along with frontline crew. These values spoke to me.

The present: Living the mission every day

Now Vanguard’s mission is something I experience every day working alongside our crew. The values upon which the company was founded are built into everything we do for our clients:

  • High ethical standards. You entrust us with an awesome responsibility when you give us your money to invest. We don’t play games. I don’t face ethical dilemmas at Vanguard. I simply follow our mantra to “do the right thing.” I know I’ll have support for any decision driven by this credo.
  • No outside interests. Most Vanguard clients know our structure makes us different. Shareholders own the funds that own Vanguard. There are no outside owners and therefore no conflicting loyalties. Our clients are our only stakeholders.¹
  • Value from scale. As Vanguard grows, we’re able to give clients even more value because of economies of scale. You see this directly through our efforts to lower fund costs consistently.

Those principles won’t change. But that doesn’t mean our company won’t evolve.

The future: Innovating with you in mind

Mr. Bogle was an innovator who always put investors first. When he introduced the first index fund to individual investors and offered commission-free funds, he created new ways of investing. We work hard to continue Mr. Bogle’s legacy as an innovator.

We’re building on that legacy by:

  • Using technology to improve the client experience. We’re making use of robotic process automation, natural language processing, big data, artificial intelligence, and the cloud to serve you better, faster, and more personally. We’re also working on the breakthroughs of tomorrow for investors at our new Innovation Studio in downtown Philadelphia.
  • Improving our fund products. We’re constantly evaluating our funds so we can offer products that will help you build a strong portfolio. As a result, we’re expanding our lineup of ETFs (exchange-traded funds) as well as international funds.
  • Offering robust personalized advice. Although many Vanguard clients are self-directed, others prefer to work with an advisor. We’re constantly improving our Personal Advisor Services® to add new features such as a new tool to help plan for health care costs.

As always, we’re evolving to better meet your needs and to help give you the best chance for investment success.

The constant: People

The recent dedication of the Bogle building was so poignant because it tied our past to our future. As the hub of Vanguard University® and all our employee training, it’s the heart and soul of the company. It’s where all new employees learn about our mission and values. It’s where our History Center reminds us of who we were and who we are. And it’s where our leaders learn how to bring our mission to life on their own teams.

As I walk through the halls of the building, visiting with new crew members or joining the graduation ceremonies of our newest people leaders, I can almost hear our founder’s voice: When it comes to integrity, there are no exceptions. Trust yourself and be worthy of the trust of others. Even one person can make a difference.

Those words always rang true because they were backed by the proof of what Mr. Bogle built.

I know firsthand that what we do every day can have a huge impact on people’s lives. I always think of my grandparents when I think about our clients.

In the end, our mission is all about serving people—our clients and crew—which is what I love most about Vanguard.

Note:

  • Past performance is no guarantee of future returns. All investing is subject to risk, including the possible loss of the money you invest.
  • Advisory services are provided by Vanguard Advisers, Inc. (VAI), a registered investment advisor.

¹Vanguard is client-owned. As a client-owner, you own the funds that own Vanguard.