Genius of Vanguard's business model

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TimeToThink
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Genius of Vanguard's business model

Post by TimeToThink » Fri Nov 06, 2015 3:41 pm

It just occurred to me how smart of an idea index and "stay the course" investing was when it was first considered as a way to attract business for a brokerage house. Essentially, by displaying the merits of index and "stay the course" investing the broker that offers it is insuring consistent and steady revenue for itself through a steady influx of generated fees from existing investments and new investments. Through steady recurring fees and a long term view, the broker house can still make a lot of money even with a significant reduction of fees. It's simply genius! John Bogle was good, real good when he put index and "stay the course" investing into place. I bow to him.

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Re: Genius of Vanguard's business model

Post by timboktoo » Fri Nov 06, 2015 3:48 pm

It's definitely in Vanguard's best interest for us to stay the course, but it's also in our own best interest. <Insert Taylor's quotes from experts here>.

- Tim

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Re: Genius of Vanguard's business model

Post by Doc » Fri Nov 06, 2015 3:52 pm

TimeToThink wrote:Essentially, by displaying the merits of index and "stay the course" investing the broker that offers it is insuring consistent and steady revenue for itself through a steady influx of generated fees from existing investments and new investments.
And what good is a business model that returns that "consistent and steady revenue" not to itself but to the very people who are the source of the revenue in the first place? Catch 22. :D
A scientist looks for THE answer to a problem, an engineer looks for AN answer and lawyers ONLY have opinions. Investing is not a science.

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Re: Genius of Vanguard's business model

Post by GoldenFinch » Fri Nov 06, 2015 4:09 pm

I doubt that a majority of Vanguard users follow the Boglehead philosophy or even knows what it is. Financial literacy in this country is pretty dismal.

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Re: Genius of Vanguard's business model

Post by TimeToThink » Fri Nov 06, 2015 4:14 pm

Goldenfinch wrote:
I doubt that a majority of Vanguard users follow the Boglehead philosophy or even knows what it is. Financial literacy in this country is pretty dismal.
Goldenfinch, I agree with you. What do you suggest would be a good solution to fix financial illiteracy without cramping business' means of doing business? People in power tend to dislike disruptors, especially those that disrupt money from going into their pockets.
Last edited by TimeToThink on Fri Nov 06, 2015 6:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Genius of Vanguard's business model

Post by ShiftF5 » Fri Nov 06, 2015 5:00 pm

TimeToThink wrote:Goldenfinch wrote:
I doubt that a majority of Vanguard users follow the Boglehead philosophy or even knows what it is. Financial literacy in this country is pretty dismal.
Goldenfinch, I agree with you. What do you suggest would be a good solution to fix financial illiteracy without cramping business' means of doing business? People in power tend to dislike distractors, especially those that distract money from their pockets.
You can lead a horse to water...

Amazing as it is to us Bogleheads - most people simply won't take the time to learn and thus retire with a much smaller nest egg than possible. Sad but true.

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Re: Genius of Vanguard's business model

Post by GoldenFinch » Fri Nov 06, 2015 5:01 pm

TimeToThink wrote:Goldenfinch wrote:
I doubt that a majority of Vanguard users follow the Boglehead philosophy or even knows what it is. Financial literacy in this country is pretty dismal.
Goldenfinch, I agree with you. What do you suggest would be a good solution to fix financial illiteracy without cramping business' means of doing business? People in power tend to dislike distractors, especially those that distract money from their pockets.
I think financial literacy should be taught in schools K-12 and I don't mean just balancing a checkbook. Think about how we are all prepared for jobs/professions, but even very smart people have no clue how to manage their money let alone invest it. It's a huge problem. People on this site are a minority and many ended up here after making financial mistakes.

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Re: Genius of Vanguard's business model

Post by hicabob » Fri Nov 06, 2015 5:01 pm

TimeToThink wrote:It just occurred to me how smart of an idea index and "stay the course" investing was when it was first considered as a way to attract business for a brokerage house. Essentially, by displaying the merits of index and "stay the course" investing the broker that offers it is insuring consistent and steady revenue for itself through a steady influx of generated fees from existing investments and new investments. Through steady recurring fees and a long term view, the broker house can still make a lot of money even with a significant reduction of fees. It's simply genius! John Bogle was good, real good when he put index and "stay the course" investing into place. I bow to him.

In Vanguard's case, being a mutual company, the business is owned by the investors so there are no Bill Gross equivalents at Vanguard. Besides the concept of indexing that's one of the huge things Mr Bogle has given to benefit Vanguard investors.

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Re: Genius of Vanguard's business model

Post by GoldenFinch » Fri Nov 06, 2015 5:02 pm

ShiftF5 wrote:
TimeToThink wrote:Goldenfinch wrote:
I doubt that a majority of Vanguard users follow the Boglehead philosophy or even knows what it is. Financial literacy in this country is pretty dismal.
Goldenfinch, I agree with you. What do you suggest would be a good solution to fix financial illiteracy without cramping business' means of doing business? People in power tend to dislike distractors, especially those that distract money from their pockets.
You can lead a horse to water...

Amazing as it is to us Bogleheads - most people simply won't take the time to learn and thus retire with a much smaller nest egg than possible. Sad but true.
I agree with the "lead a horse to water" but some horses are never even led to the water.

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Re: Genius of Vanguard's business model

Post by TimeToThink » Fri Nov 06, 2015 5:09 pm

GoldenFinch wrote:
I think financial literacy should be taught in schools K-12 and I don't mean just balancing a checkbook. Think about how we are all prepared for jobs/professions, but even very smart people have no clue how to manage their money let alone invest it. It's a huge problem. People on this site are a minority and many ended up here after making financial mistakes.
GoldenFinch, do you think that not requiring solid financial literacy in our public schools is by design? If so, where is it coming from?

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Re: Genius of Vanguard's business model

Post by GoldenFinch » Fri Nov 06, 2015 5:23 pm

TimeToThink wrote:GoldenFinch wrote:
I think financial literacy should be taught in schools K-12 and I don't mean just balancing a checkbook. Think about how we are all prepared for jobs/professions, but even very smart people have no clue how to manage their money let alone invest it. It's a huge problem. People on this site are a minority and many ended up here after making financial mistakes.
GoldenFinch, do you think that not requiring solid financial literacy in our public schools is by design? If so, where is it coming from?
I think it would be helpful. I wish I had been taught about finances in school or at home or somewhere. I wasn't taught much that was useful and neither was my husband. We learned through experimentation. :happy

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Re: Genius of Vanguard's business model

Post by Big Dog » Fri Nov 06, 2015 5:26 pm

I think financial literacy should be taught in schools K-12 and I don't mean just balancing a checkbook. Think about how we are all prepared for jobs/professions,
Say what? With a high school degree? Heck, even with a liberal arts degree? (Besides Comp Sci.) Sure, vocational (business, engineering, nursing, teaching) degree college grads generally do ok, but hundreds of thousands of libel arts majors are "well prepared"? For what?

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Re: Genius of Vanguard's business model

Post by GoldenFinch » Fri Nov 06, 2015 5:35 pm

Big Dog wrote:
I think financial literacy should be taught in schools K-12 and I don't mean just balancing a checkbook. Think about how we are all prepared for jobs/professions,
Say what? With a high school degree? Heck, even with a liberal arts degree? (Besides Comp Sci.) Sure, vocational (business, engineering, nursing, teaching) degree college grads generally do ok, but hundreds of thousands of libel arts majors are "well prepared"? For what?
Grad school? :happy

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Re: Genius of Vanguard's business model

Post by SeeMoe » Fri Nov 06, 2015 6:33 pm

GoldenFinch wrote:
TimeToThink wrote:Goldenfinch wrote:
I doubt that a majority of Vanguard users follow the Boglehead philosophy or even knows what it is. Financial literacy in this country is pretty dismal.
Goldenfinch, I agree with you. What do you suggest would be a good solution to fix financial illiteracy without cramping business' means of doing business? People in power tend to dislike distractors, especially those that distract money from their pockets.
I think financial literacy should be taught in schools K-12 and I don't mean just balancing a checkbook. Think about how we are all prepared for jobs/professions, but even very smart pe
ople have no clue how to manage their money let alone invest it. It's a huge problem. People on this site are a minority and many ended up here after making financial mistakes.
Of all places, I first was exposed to long term investing when I overheard junior NCO,s discussing our platoon sergeant while in the infantry in Korea . Through his brother who was a mutual fund salesman in the states, he bought a few shares every payday . That spiked my curiosity about investing some 55 years ago,.. :moneybag
"By gnawing through a dike, even a Rat can destroy a nation ." {Edmund Burke}

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Re: Genius of Vanguard's business model

Post by GoldenFinch » Fri Nov 06, 2015 7:00 pm

SeeMoe wrote:
GoldenFinch wrote:
TimeToThink wrote:Goldenfinch wrote:
I doubt that a majority of Vanguard users follow the Boglehead philosophy or even knows what it is. Financial literacy in this country is pretty dismal.
Goldenfinch, I agree with you. What do you suggest would be a good solution to fix financial illiteracy without cramping business' means of doing business? People in power tend to dislike distractors, especially those that distract money from their pockets.
I think financial literacy should be taught in schools K-12 and I don't mean just balancing a checkbook. Think about how we are all prepared for jobs/professions, but even very smart pe
ople have no clue how to manage their money let alone invest it. It's a huge problem. People on this site are a minority and many ended up here after making financial mistakes.
Of all places, I first was exposed to long term investing when I overheard junior NCO,s discussing our platoon sergeant while in the infantry in Korea . Through his brother who was a mutual fund salesman in the states, he bought a few shares every payday . That spiked my curiosity about investing some 55 years ago,.. :moneybag
And I bet that paid off nicely! :thumbsup

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Re: Genius of Vanguard's business model

Post by Rodc » Fri Nov 06, 2015 8:18 pm

Jack Bogle is worth a lowish multiple of $1M.

Ned Johnson of Fidelity is a billionaire bases largely on active mutual funds.

Now explain to me how Bogle had the better business model.

Great for us, yes. But not as a business model per se.
We live a world with knowledge of the future markets has less than one significant figure. And people will still and always demand answers to three significant digits.

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Re: Genius of Vanguard's business model

Post by Archie Sinclair » Fri Nov 06, 2015 10:04 pm

Rodc wrote:Jack Bogle is worth a lowish multiple of $1M.

Ned Johnson of Fidelity is a billionaire bases largely on active mutual funds.

Now explain to me how Bogle had the better business model.

Great for us, yes. But not as a business model per se.
Fidelity is owned by the Johnson family. But Vanguard was never owned by the Bogle family.

Instead, Jack Bogle started as an executive at the Wellington Management Company (WMC). When he was fired from WMC in a boardroom coup, he staged a comeback by persuading the independent trustees of the Wellington Fund to ditch WMC as the Fund's "distributor" in favor of a mutual organization, to be called Vanguard, run by him. (WMC continued to manage the Wellington Fund's investments and still does today).

Bogle then proposed to the trustees that Vanguard should launch an index fund. He argued that Vanguard should manage the index fund's investments in-house, rather than rely on WMC, because index funds don't require any skilled management.

:) So explain to me how Ned Johnson, who inherited Fidelity, had a better business model than Jack Bogle.

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Re: Genius of Vanguard's business model

Post by Coles » Fri Nov 06, 2015 10:16 pm

GoldenFinch wrote:I think financial literacy should be taught in schools K-12.
They first need to start with general literacy, e.g. the difference between insuring and ensuring (see OP). :P

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Re: Genius of Vanguard's business model

Post by Epsilon Delta » Fri Nov 06, 2015 11:21 pm

Coles wrote:
GoldenFinch wrote:I think financial literacy should be taught in schools K-12.
They first need to start with general literacy, e.g. the difference between insuring and ensuring (see OP). :P
And how to evaluate arguments. The case Mr. Bogle makes for low cost index funds takes about 30 seconds. People don't find it convincing because primary, secondary and tertiary education has failed.

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Re: Genius of Vanguard's business model

Post by Rodc » Sat Nov 07, 2015 8:16 am

Archie Sinclair wrote:
Rodc wrote:Jack Bogle is worth a lowish multiple of $1M.

Ned Johnson of Fidelity is a billionaire bases largely on active mutual funds.

Now explain to me how Bogle had the better business model.

Great for us, yes. But not as a business model per se.
Fidelity is owned by the Johnson family. But Vanguard was never owned by the Bogle family.

Instead, Jack Bogle started as an executive at the Wellington Management Company (WMC). When he was fired from WMC in a boardroom coup, he staged a comeback by persuading the independent trustees of the Wellington Fund to ditch WMC as the Fund's "distributor" in favor of a mutual organization, to be called Vanguard, run by him. (WMC continued to manage the Wellington Fund's investments and still does today).

Bogle then proposed to the trustees that Vanguard should launch an index fund. He argued that Vanguard should manage the index fund's investments in-house, rather than rely on WMC, because index funds don't require any skilled management.

:) So explain to me how Ned Johnson, who inherited Fidelity, had a better business model than Jack Bogle.
I was reacting to this line:

Through steady recurring fees and a long term view, the broker house can still make a lot of money even with a significant reduction of fees. It's simply genius!

Everyone knows Jack's story so that is neither here nor there.

Family vs individual or inherited or started is similarly nether here nor there as the issue is the business model itself. I glossed over the fact that Ned did not start the company so thanks for that. I'm not an expert on Fidelity but my understanding is the the full benefits (to the Johnson family) of the Fidelity business model came to fullness under Ned.

Jack is a wonderful person. His business model has been very successful in many ways, not the least in attracting AUM and in providing benefits to individual investors. But it certainly did not maximize recurring fees (which for us is a good thing and I should be clear that the OP did not say maximize). Or should I say has not maximized fees to date. Perhaps indexing will in the end put an end to high fee funds.
We live a world with knowledge of the future markets has less than one significant figure. And people will still and always demand answers to three significant digits.

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Vanguard Start

Post by EyeDee » Sat Nov 07, 2015 12:00 pm

.
Archie Sinclair,

A minor correction in your statement, when Bogle was fired the trustees decided to that the mutual organization as the "administrator" for the funds not the "distributor". That was done later.

From "John Bogle and the Vanguard Experiment" by Robert Slater, on page 78: "The directors had, in the end, decided on the most conservative and least contentions option: "investment advice and distribution would be left to Wellington Management, administration to the funds themselves."
Archie Sinclair wrote: Fidelity is owned by the Johnson family. But Vanguard was never owned by the Bogle family.

Instead, Jack Bogle started as an executive at the Wellington Management Company (WMC). When he was fired from WMC in a boardroom coup, he staged a comeback by persuading the independent trustees of the Wellington Fund to ditch WMC as the Fund's "distributor" in favor of a mutual organization, to be called Vanguard, run by him. (WMC continued to manage the Wellington Fund's investments and still does today).

Bogle then proposed to the trustees that Vanguard should launch an index fund. He argued that Vanguard should manage the index fund's investments in-house, rather than rely on WMC, because index funds don't require any skilled management.

:) So explain to me how Ned Johnson, who inherited Fidelity, had a better business model than Jack Bogle.
Randy

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Re: Genius of Vanguard's business model

Post by TimeToThink » Sat Nov 07, 2015 10:00 pm

Coles wrote:
They first need to start with general literacy, e.g. the difference between insuring and ensuring (see OP). :P
Coles, what can I say, I like reading the NY Times, and they must have an influence on my writing style. Please see below. That said, have a good one.

From writersdigest.com:
Q: Are “ensure” and “insure” interchangeable?—Anonymous

A: Some stylebooks say yes, and some say no. Are you any less confused? These two words are often used in place of each other, but WD’s style separates them.WD—and many other publications—uses “insure” only when referring to financial insurance policies. After signing a contract with a professional baseball team, Jack decided to insure his pitching arm for $1 million. When the meaning is “to make certain,” WD sticks with “ensure.” It’s my job to ensure that you don’t misuse terms like these.

There are some newspapers and magazines, such as The New York Times and The New Yorker, that still use “insure” in both instances, but it’s fairly archaic to do so. Most publications differentiate the two.

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Re: Genius of Vanguard's business model

Post by TimeToThink » Sat Nov 07, 2015 10:19 pm

Hi all, OP here: With regard to my stating John Bogle is a genius this where it is coming from. Also, I guess it's a matter of perspective, and how all plays out in the end. A poster brought up Fidelity's Ned Johnson. Okay, he's made more. However, Bogle is a genius because, through indexing and the ability to reduce fees as a result of it, he virtually guarantees that with all else being equal - that is, ROI given the same risk - that he will have the ability to undercut the competition who does not use indexing, or at least, not to the same extent. Of course, investor bias' come into play on where they land, but as investors become enlightened about the virtues of indexing then they will tend to flock to Vanguard/Bogle if for no other reason than to be charged less fees than the competition.

In other words, Bogle's model is far more sustainable than anything else out there. And in my book, sustainability qualifies far more as a measure of genius than maximizing one's wealth over a shorter period of time.

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Re: Genius of Vanguard's business model

Post by pkcrafter » Sun Nov 08, 2015 12:00 am

TimetoThink, What John Bogle had in mind when he created Vanguard and the first ultra-low cost index fund was to give investors an opportunity to get "their fair share," meaning the market return. That's why he set up Vanguard as a not-for-profit company, and it remains the only one. His idea was strongly ridiculed, and they called his index fund "Bogle's folly."

Today, less about 30% of all investors hold at least one index fund, so indexing isn't exactly overwhelming the industry.

Paul
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Re: Genius of Vanguard's business model

Post by TimeToThink » Sun Nov 08, 2015 7:20 am

Paul, thanks. As for your comment about less than 30% of all investors hold at least one index fund. I guess we should pat ourselves on the back - those of us that see the virtues of indexing - because oftentimes it take a wise person to even recognize genius when it's there.

A thought on the "use of Bogle's folly". If one's bread and butter was not derived from indexing funds I would think, that when a disruptor like Bogle came along, that the competition would have reacted to the perceived threat to the buttering of their bread by discrediting Bogle's methodology for the sake of their own business interests. In other words, I'm inclined to see the intended use of "Bogle's folly" as a response to a real threat rather than the discrediting of it based on its merits. It was war.

Andrew

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Re: Genius of Vanguard's business model

Post by ShenziNation » Mon Nov 09, 2015 11:04 am

GoldenFinch wrote:
ShiftF5 wrote:
TimeToThink wrote:Goldenfinch wrote:
I doubt that a majority of Vanguard users follow the Boglehead philosophy or even knows what it is. Financial literacy in this country is pretty dismal.
Goldenfinch, I agree with you. What do you suggest would be a good solution to fix financial illiteracy without cramping business' means of doing business? People in power tend to dislike distractors, especially those that distract money from their pockets.
You can lead a horse to water...

Amazing as it is to us Bogleheads - most people simply won't take the time to learn and thus retire with a much smaller nest egg than possible. Sad but true.
I agree with the "lead a horse to water" but some horses are never even led to the water.
Based on feedback from co-workers since 2004 (when I first got full-time employment with a retirement DC plan):
Mutual funds offer choices, but there isn't much effort vested into educating which funds to pick. As a result, some pick a little bit of each fund, some pick none since they are overwhelmed by numbers, some pick one of the conservative-moderate-aggressive portfolios. (Nowadays the Target Date funds help, and Vanguard's literature really helps in making educated choices, I have noticed this over the years.) Many of my current co-workers don't take the company match; instead they turn it over to an AmeriPrise advisor or UBS or TD. They are in the IT field but can't fathom a single indicator (ER). A 2/3/4 lazy portfolio is too hard to pick even if someone (Wiki) has done it for them. Hence, I'm done helping those willingly wishing to remain ignorant and lazy to make changes.

In the last 365 days, I have moved both my parents' IRAs to Vanguard, rolled over wife's IRA, advised brother on a Target Date funds, got him hooked to Bogleheads' reading list and to White Coat Investor, esp. since he is in the medical field like EmergDoc is and Dr. Bernstein was.

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Re: Genius of Vanguard's business model

Post by GoldenFinch » Mon Nov 09, 2015 12:54 pm

bad78andy wrote:
GoldenFinch wrote:
ShiftF5 wrote:
TimeToThink wrote:Goldenfinch wrote:
I doubt that a majority of Vanguard users follow the Boglehead philosophy or even knows what it is. Financial literacy in this country is pretty dismal.
Goldenfinch, I agree with you. What do you suggest would be a good solution to fix financial illiteracy without cramping business' means of doing business? People in power tend to dislike distractors, especially those that distract money from their pockets.
You can lead a horse to water...

Amazing as it is to us Bogleheads - most people simply won't take the time to learn and thus retire with a much smaller nest egg than possible. Sad but true.
I agree with the "lead a horse to water" but some horses are never even led to the water.
Based on feedback from co-workers since 2004 (when I first got full-time employment with a retirement DC plan):
Mutual funds offer choices, but there isn't much effort vested into educating which funds to pick. As a result, some pick a little bit of each fund, some pick none since they are overwhelmed by numbers, some pick one of the conservative-moderate-aggressive portfolios. (Nowadays the Target Date funds help, and Vanguard's literature really helps in making educated choices, I have noticed this over the years.) Many of my current co-workers don't take the company match; instead they turn it over to an AmeriPrise advisor or UBS or TD. They are in the IT field but can't fathom a single indicator (ER). A 2/3/4 lazy portfolio is too hard to pick even if someone (Wiki) has done it for them. Hence, I'm done helping those willingly wishing to remain ignorant and lazy to make changes.

In the last 365 days, I have moved both my parents' IRAs to Vanguard, rolled over wife's IRA, advised brother on a Target Date funds, got him hooked to Bogleheads' reading list and to White Coat Investor, esp. since he is in the medical field like EmergDoc is and Dr. Bernstein was.
I have had a similar experience and have mostly come to the same conclusion. It's the PollyAnna in me that thinks if people had the right information/education they would invest their money wisely, but I am well aware that many people don't or won't follow the most basic investment advice even when it is in their best interest and laid out at their feet. My husband has a tech company and offers a 401k with a match. Hardly anyone participates even though they all know there is a match. Free money, there for the taking, passed up.

On the bright side, money is pouring into Vanguard in record amounts, so TimeToThink has a good point. Vanguard has a good business model and there is increasing awareness about the benefits of indexing (even though many are left in the dust because of disinterest, ignorance, or their subscribing to an alternative investment philosophy - I'm trying to cover all bases).

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Re: Genius of Vanguard's business model

Post by TimeToThink » Mon Nov 09, 2015 4:59 pm

GoldenFinch, thanks for the compliment! :happy

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