How Vanguard employees view Vanguard

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Rob5TCP
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How Vanguard employees view Vanguard

Post by Rob5TCP » Wed Mar 06, 2013 10:13 am

This is not exactly personal finance, but it does give a perspective on how Vanguard is viewed internally.
Naturally some will exalt Vanguard and some will skewer it. Most of the employees are in the middle. They
enjoy working there, but the frugal ways moves a lot of talented people to leave. I don't know how representative
this sample is, but it is a few hundred reviews.

http://www.glassdoor.com/Reviews/The-Va ... -E4084.htm

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Re: How Vanguard employees view Vanguard

Post by NYBoglehead » Wed Mar 06, 2013 10:39 am

What's good for the employees usually isn't good for the customers. I'm sure the employees at Goldman Sachs are far happier, they probably make 5x what Vanguard employees do but their ERs are terrible.

I'm sure Vanguard employees do just fine, I couldn't possibly care less if they aren't becoming millionaires at the expense of their customers.

Let the unhappy folks leave for JP Morgan, Goldman, and the hedge funds.

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Re: How Vanguard employees view Vanguard

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Wed Mar 06, 2013 10:41 am

Wow! So the women are attractive in Scottsdale! :D Who knew? :oops:
The pay is below par - welcome to the rest of the working world. :oops: The one thing about comparing Vanguard to the competition - there is no true competitor in the no-frills space. It is what it is...indexing is plain boring....added value? how so? will it add to owners returns? Not saying they don't deserve a competitive wage, but these days price deflation is well in effect except in everyday life.
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Re: How Vanguard employees view Vanguard

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Wed Mar 06, 2013 10:43 am

NYBoglehead wrote:What's good for the employees usually isn't good for the customers. I'm sure the employees at Goldman Sachs are far happier, they probably make 5x what Vanguard employees do but their ERs are terrible.

I'm sure Vanguard employees do just fine, I couldn't possibly care less if they aren't becoming millionaires at the expense of their customers.

Let the unhappy folks leave for JP Morgan, Goldman, and the hedge funds.
And the turnover at JP Goldman and hedge funds is tremendously high for a reason - if you are perceived to have no value-add, they will toss you out the door faster than it takes you to put on your coat. Be careful about dancing with the devil you don't know. :greedy :moneybag :greedy In those places the only thing worshipped more is ---> :dollar
"One should invest based on their need, ability and willingness to take risk - Larry Swedroe" Asking Portfolio Questions

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Re: How Vanguard employees view Vanguard

Post by KyleAAA » Wed Mar 06, 2013 10:46 am

The few guys I know who have worked at the investment banks have absolutely hated it. I'm sure the top-tier IBankers and execs enjoy themselves, but I don't think that extends to the rank and file. Can you imagine being an accountant or worse, and engineer at Goldman? I cringe.

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Re: How Vanguard employees view Vanguard

Post by NYBoglehead » Wed Mar 06, 2013 10:50 am

Grt2bOutdoors wrote:
NYBoglehead wrote:What's good for the employees usually isn't good for the customers. I'm sure the employees at Goldman Sachs are far happier, they probably make 5x what Vanguard employees do but their ERs are terrible.

I'm sure Vanguard employees do just fine, I couldn't possibly care less if they aren't becoming millionaires at the expense of their customers.

Let the unhappy folks leave for JP Morgan, Goldman, and the hedge funds.
And the turnover at JP Goldman and hedge funds is tremendously high for a reason - if you are perceived to have no value-add, they will toss you out the door faster than it takes you to put on your coat. Be careful about dancing with the devil you don't know. :greedy :moneybag :greedy In those places the only thing worshipped more is ---> :dollar
I agree completely. I also know that the six-figure salaries more often than not come from the pockets of their customers instead of their stellar investment performance. As another poster mentioned, it is impossible to make a comparison among what their "competitors" pay. I'm not asking for commodity funds/managed futures/derivatives/other expensive crap so there's no need to pay some whiz kid from MIT 600k to work there. I'm sure that the cost of living in Valley Forge, PA is a hell of a lot lower than Manhattan/Boston/San Fran so making an apples to apples to comparison is difficult on that end as well.

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Re: How Vanguard employees view Vanguard

Post by Blues » Wed Mar 06, 2013 10:50 am

Without direct personal knowledge of the nuts and bolts of how Vanguard remunerates and treats their employees all I can say is that I hope they are fairly compensated for the work and skills which they bring to their jobs.

If I am going to invest a significant portion of my hard earned money with a fund company I'd prefer to be paying for the services of a bright, competent and motivated staff.

The alternative could prove far more costly in the long run on a variety of levels.
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Re: How Vanguard employees view Vanguard

Post by nisiprius » Wed Mar 06, 2013 10:57 am

Compare Dimensional Fund Advisors. :twisted:

Actually a few random clicks suggest that mutual fund companies are pretty tightly clustered around a rating of 3.

Dodge & Cox got a 4.5 but with only four reviews, who knows?

Domini Social Investments does not sound like a fun place to work, but, again, with only three reviews, who knows? Funny remark: "the CEO and CIO (based in the Boston area) literally phone it in."
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Re: How Vanguard employees view Vanguard

Post by NYBoglehead » Wed Mar 06, 2013 11:04 am

I don't want to sound like a jerk or anything, and I am all for people being able to make as much as they can honorably earn and all that, but I couldn't possibly care less if Vanguard employees are only reasonably happy. They get paid to sit behind desks all day in a climate controlled room. They might not make as much as their "peers" at the big banks and hedge funds, but I'm sure they make more than the average cop walking the beat, the guy climbing the telephone poll in the winter, a truck driver delivering goods across the country, and 97% of servicemembers.

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Re: How Vanguard employees view Vanguard

Post by jwa » Wed Mar 06, 2013 11:17 am

Sounds like a couple large corporations I worked for.

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Re: How Vanguard employees view Vanguard

Post by Blues » Wed Mar 06, 2013 11:20 am

NYBoglehead wrote:I don't want to sound like a jerk or anything, and I am all for people being able to make as much as they can honorably earn and all that, but I couldn't possibly care less if Vanguard employees are only reasonably happy. They get paid to sit behind desks all day in a climate controlled room. They might not make as much as their "peers" at the big banks and hedge funds, but I'm sure they make more than the average cop walking the beat, the guy climbing the telephone poll in the winter, a truck driver delivering goods across the country, and 97% of servicemembers.
Well, as a retired federal law enforcement officer it's refreshing to hear someone stick up for the "cop on the beat" for a change and not bemoan their pensions funded with tax dollars. :sharebeer

On the other hand, and in line with the gist of this thread, I was just showing my wife an article the other day which discussed a situation in which a former colleague of mine was shot and severely wounded on the job.

The agency, from which I voluntarily retired 9 years ago after it was "reinvented", was rated by its own employees as amongst the lowest on morale within the federal government.

In my humble opinion it takes more than just a decent wage to recruit and retain good people.
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Re: How Vanguard employees view Vanguard

Post by NYBoglehead » Wed Mar 06, 2013 11:30 am

^Blues, I agree that there is more to job satisfaction than just wages. The greatest job satisfaction I ever had was when I was in the Marine Corps. I didn't make a ton of money but I loved my job and the people I worked with.

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Re: How Vanguard employees view Vanguard

Post by chaz » Wed Mar 06, 2013 11:31 am

It's all about money: salary, perks, and ERs.
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Re: How Vanguard employees view Vanguard

Post by billern » Wed Mar 06, 2013 11:32 am

I only own Vanguard funds indirectly through ETFs held elsewhere but I see this as a reminder to be courteous, understanding, and appreciative when talking to any customer service representative.

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Re: How Vanguard employees view Vanguard

Post by tim1999 » Wed Mar 06, 2013 11:35 am

I once passed on a job offer from Vanguard. The pay was too low in relation to the local cost of living (and what other companies were offering me), and I didn't want an hour-long commute. This wasn't for an investment management position. The pay would have been fine in a more "middle of nowhere" location, but suburban Philly isn't cheap.

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Re: How Vanguard employees view Vanguard

Post by HardKnocker » Wed Mar 06, 2013 12:19 pm

Sounds like a lousy place to work. Like most places nowadays.

It's unfortunate.
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Re: How Vanguard employees view Vanguard

Post by tj » Wed Mar 06, 2013 12:49 pm

Ive been trying to get into Vanguard for almost two years now. They're a tough nut to crack.

Anyways, Vanguard's benefits are just fine. They are better than what Schwab and Fidelity offer. And you get to invest in Vanguard funds.

https://careers.vanguard.com/vgcareers/ ... 102010.pdf

10% of pay into 401(k) - vests after 6 years
4% 401(k) match - vests immediately
-18 days PTO + 9 holidays

If you stay there for a long time, you get retiree health benefits too.

The glassdoor site is not encouraging as it really suggests a lack of opportunity for advancement, but those website job reviews have always been predominantly negative.

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Re: How Vanguard employees view Vanguard

Post by ResNullius » Wed Mar 06, 2013 1:12 pm

I've been with Vanguard for about 25 years now. Except for the first 2 years or so, I've had the same Flagship Rep the entire time. She works out of their office in Charlotte. Vanguard must be doing something right, because I can't think of many businesses where you see the same person for 25 years.

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Re: How Vanguard employees view Vanguard

Post by Dandy » Thu Mar 07, 2013 11:13 am

Most jobs at a mutual fund company are not that exciting e.g. answering phones, setting up accounts etc. The tasks are repetitive and get boring. Vanguard must have hundreds of phone reps but how many will advance beyond supervisor? I ran mutual fund operations and phone centers and it was a constant challenge to keep staff motivated and morale at a high level. It is usually the management from top to bottom that makes the difference but only for awhile. After awhile really good people who see no interesting career path will look elsewhere.

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Re: How Vanguard employees view Vanguard

Post by HardKnocker » Thu Mar 07, 2013 3:35 pm

Nobody is forced to work at Vanguard (or anywhere else) so if you don't like it, quit.

Don't stay and complain and be a toxic presence.
“Gold gets dug out of the ground, then we melt it down, dig another hole, bury it again and pay people to stand around guarding it. It has no utility.”--Warren Buffett

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Re: How Vanguard employees view Vanguard

Post by mickeyd » Thu Mar 07, 2013 3:48 pm

When I chose VG to invest with I did so based on their products and their ERs. I don't really care if the employees are happy or not as long as the ERs continue to decrease. A relationship with my assigned representative is one of my least important VG needs.
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Re: How Vanguard employees view Vanguard

Post by nydad » Thu Mar 07, 2013 3:54 pm

I don't really care if the employees are happy or not as long as the ERs continue to decrease.
while obviously not equivalent, you could make a similar argument by saying "I want my clothes that I buy at Walmart to be cheap, I don't care if the people making the clothes are suffering"

My own perspective is, I think Vanguard is a great company and provides a great service to investors. I wouldn't mind paying a higher ER (that remains market competitive, or below the market rate as they are today) if VG reps and workers had good benefits and reasonable salaries. I don't like to think that they're underpaid (and thus the good ones will leave, which means the net quality of employees at VG goes down over time, resulting in less good stuff for me).

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Re: How Vanguard employees view Vanguard

Post by mickeyd » Thu Mar 07, 2013 3:59 pm

you could make a similar argument by saying "I want my clothes that I buy at Walmart to be cheap, I don't care if the people making the clothes are suffering"
Not really. You might make a comparison with Walmart store employees though. I don't care how happy they are with their job (check out counter, stocking shelves etc) as long as they sell good stuff at low prices.
I don't like to think that they're underpaid
I doubt that many VG employees that have anything to do with our accounts are underpaid. Of course they can always leave,if unhappy, as in any position.
Last edited by mickeyd on Thu Mar 07, 2013 4:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How Vanguard employees view Vanguard

Post by HardKnocker » Thu Mar 07, 2013 4:02 pm

nydad wrote:
I don't really care if the employees are happy or not as long as the ERs continue to decrease.
while obviously not equivalent, you could make a similar argument by saying "I want my clothes that I buy at Walmart to be cheap, I don't care if the people making the clothes are suffering"

My own perspective is, I think Vanguard is a great company and provides a great service to investors. I wouldn't mind paying a higher ER (that remains market competitive, or below the market rate as they are today) if VG reps and workers had good benefits and reasonable salaries. I don't like to think that they're underpaid (and thus the good ones will leave, which means the net quality of employees at VG goes down over time, resulting in less good stuff for me).
I don't want to pay higher fees to Vanguard. The low fees are why I am with Vanguard! I could go with T.Rowe Price or Fidelity for example.

I go to WalMart because it is cheap not because I like the atmosphere in WalMart. Otherwise forget it, I'll go to Target.

I can shop anywhere, invest anywhere. I don't have any emotional ties to Vanguard or WalMart or any companies. I want the best product/service for the money and I will jump ship to get it. It's business. My money is my business.

Many of the complaints the employees listed are not due to wages but to the management's relations with the employees. They feel undervalued. Management can address these concerns in many ways. The employees need to feel involved in the process. They need to feel like they are contributing, not just punching a clock. However, if a particular employee doesn't like it, they can attempt to change the process from the inside, or quit and work elsewhere.

If they change the process enough so that Vanguard loses their edge in the marketplace, I will take my money and leave. Vanguard is not a club or religion. It's a company providing a service. It's not an altruistic endeavor. The company has a more ethical mission statement though as opposed to many other companies. I like that. It's a positive thing about Vanguard. Call it Goodwill.

Any business I've worked for has had politics and other BS. You either put up with it with a smile or leave. Better yet, start your own business and then come up with your own BS to drive your employees crazy.
“Gold gets dug out of the ground, then we melt it down, dig another hole, bury it again and pay people to stand around guarding it. It has no utility.”--Warren Buffett

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