Insights From a Long Call With Vanguard Reps Today

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yousha
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Re: Insights from Vanguard

Post by yousha » Sun Jun 09, 2019 11:04 am

FireHorse wrote:
Thu Jun 06, 2019 11:15 am
michaeljmroger wrote:
Thu Jun 06, 2019 12:47 am
I had a very long call with Vanguard today. We discussed many different topics and I thought some of the things they said might interest some of you, so here are some of my notes and impressions:
  • I know Vanguard doesn’t have a stellar reputation here when it comes to support, but my experience has been pretty much flawless so far. I don’t know if it’s because I’m a Flagship client but literally every person I talked to was super nice and competent.
  • Vanguard is clearly pushing ETFs. It’s very unlikely they’ll lower the ERs on the mutual funds to match the lower prices of their corresponding ETFs (e.g. 0.07% for VTMGX, 0.05% for VEA).
  • I said that despite the current hype around ETFs, I personally preferred mutual funds as they still have many appealing attributes, for example automatic withdrawals. They said they’re considering a few options to offer these features for ETFs as well.
  • Not exactly surprising but, they agreed LifeStrategy funds aren’t suited for taxable accounts.
  • I shared some of my concerns about their technology and they take that very seriously. It’s apparently one of their top priorities at the moment, and they’re working on modernizing their apps.
  • They don’t seem particularly excited about TIPS. Even at low stock allocations, they wouldn’t go above 10% (which doesn’t match their retirement funds by the way).
  • It seems clear for them that the appropriate US/Ex-US allocation is 60/40.
  • They don’t like cash. Max 1 year as an EF, but nothing more. That’s a big difference with Schwab’s typical significant cash drag.
  • Vanguard PAS lower their fees if you’ve more than $5M with them. I thought the 0.3% was a fixed price.
  • I really liked their PAS presentation. They’re not incentivized to sell you something, so it really seems like they’re trying to find the best solution for you, not for them.
  • It’s silly, but they said it’s highly unusual for them to speak with customers who know about this stuff as much as I do, so I was very proud thanks to all of you! :beer
THANKS for Sharing.
I am just like you that prefers mutual fund over etf
I agree wholeheartedly!

teniralc
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Re: Insights from Vanguard

Post by teniralc » Sun Jun 09, 2019 11:31 am

michaeljmroger wrote:
Fri Jun 07, 2019 6:27 pm
Phineas J. Whoopee wrote:
Fri Jun 07, 2019 2:04 pm
michaeljmroger wrote:
Thu Jun 06, 2019 12:47 am
... Vanguard is clearly pushing ETFs. It’s very unlikely they’ll lower the ERs on the mutual funds to match the lower prices of their corresponding ETFs (e.g. 0.07% for VTMGX, 0.05% for VEA).
...
Vanguard does not raise or lower expense ratios, regardless of whether they would prefer their customers to use traditional mutual funds or exchange-traded funds.

Vanguard reports expense ratios after the fact. It's what they already spent during the previous reporting period.

Vanguard raising or lowering ERs to discourage this and encourage that is a common misconception.

PJW
Sure. Just to clarify: they did mention ETFs were cheaper to run for them, which is why they were encouraging customers to use them so that they could benefit from the lower prices.
I thought this "ETFs vs. mutual funds: A comparison" article from Vanguard was a helpful introductory comparison: https://investor.vanguard.com/etf/etf-vs-mutual-fund

sarabayo
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Re: Insights from Vanguard

Post by sarabayo » Sun Jun 09, 2019 7:34 pm

teniralc wrote:
Sun Jun 09, 2019 11:31 am
michaeljmroger wrote:
Fri Jun 07, 2019 6:27 pm
Sure. Just to clarify: they did mention ETFs were cheaper to run for them, which is why they were encouraging customers to use them so that they could benefit from the lower prices.
I thought this "ETFs vs. mutual funds: A comparison" article from Vanguard was a helpful introductory comparison: https://investor.vanguard.com/etf/etf-vs-mutual-fund
This page only seems to deal with the pros and cons of ETFs vs. mutual funds from an investor's perspective. There's nothing there about whether ETFs are cheaper to run for Vanguard, or whether they "want" us to switch to ETFs, whether Vanguard's company strategy is to push people towards ETFs, etc. I'd be interested in reading an article from Vanguard which touched on that subject.

teniralc
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Re: Insights from Vanguard

Post by teniralc » Sun Jun 09, 2019 10:46 pm

sarabayo wrote:
Sun Jun 09, 2019 7:34 pm
teniralc wrote:
Sun Jun 09, 2019 11:31 am
michaeljmroger wrote:
Fri Jun 07, 2019 6:27 pm
Sure. Just to clarify: they did mention ETFs were cheaper to run for them, which is why they were encouraging customers to use them so that they could benefit from the lower prices.
I thought this "ETFs vs. mutual funds: A comparison" article from Vanguard was a helpful introductory comparison: https://investor.vanguard.com/etf/etf-vs-mutual-fund
This page only seems to deal with the pros and cons of ETFs vs. mutual funds from an investor's perspective. There's nothing there about whether ETFs are cheaper to run for Vanguard, or whether they "want" us to switch to ETFs, whether Vanguard's company strategy is to push people towards ETFs, etc. I'd be interested in reading an article from Vanguard which touched on that subject.
You have a good point. I don't have an answer for that. I searched and was not able to find an article about why Vanguard is pushing people towards ETF funds, if they, in fact are.

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jeffyscott
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Re: Insights From a Long Call With Vanguard Reps Today

Post by jeffyscott » Mon Jun 10, 2019 6:12 am

Well, they said "encouraging", so it's really just semantics. What's clear is that they changed how expenses are assigned recently to the benefit of the ETF investors. Until recently the expense ratios were the same between Admiral shares and ETFs, Vanguard chose to change that.

And, yes, clearly it's something that they chose to do, since all of them changed at once.
Time is your friend; impulse is your enemy. - John C. Bogle

columbia
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Re: Insights From a Long Call With Vanguard Reps Today

Post by columbia » Mon Jun 10, 2019 6:16 am

I guess they view the mutual fund holders are free riders.

I’m ok paying an extra 0.01% (or whatever the difference is) for the automatic investing convenience.

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Sandtrap
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Re: Insights From a Long Call With Vanguard Reps Today

Post by Sandtrap » Mon Jun 10, 2019 7:52 am

michaeljmroger wrote:
Thu Jun 06, 2019 12:47 am
I had a very long call with Vanguard today. We discussed many different topics and I thought some of the things they said might interest some of you, so here are some of my notes and impressions:
  • I know Vanguard doesn’t have a stellar reputation here when it comes to support, but my experience has been pretty much flawless so far. I don’t know if it’s because I’m a Flagship client but literally every person I talked to was super nice and competent.
  • Vanguard is clearly pushing ETFs. It’s very unlikely they’ll lower the ERs on the mutual funds to match the lower prices of their corresponding ETFs (e.g. 0.07% for VTMGX, 0.05% for VEA).
  • I said that despite the current hype around ETFs, I personally preferred mutual funds as they still have many appealing attributes, for example automatic withdrawals. They said they’re considering a few options to offer these features for ETFs as well.
  • Not exactly surprising but, they agreed LifeStrategy funds aren’t suited for taxable accounts.
  • I shared some of my concerns about their technology and they take that very seriously. It’s apparently one of their top priorities at the moment, and they’re working on modernizing their apps.
  • They don’t seem particularly excited about TIPS. Even at low stock allocations, they wouldn’t go above 10% (which doesn’t match their retirement funds by the way).
  • It seems clear for them that the appropriate US/Ex-US allocation is 60/40.
  • They don’t like cash. Max 1 year as an EF, but nothing more. That’s a big difference with Schwab’s typical significant cash drag.
  • Vanguard PAS lower their fees if you’ve more than $5M with them. I thought the 0.3% was a fixed price.
  • I really liked their PAS presentation. They’re not incentivized to sell you something, so it really seems like they’re trying to find the best solution for you, not for them.
  • It’s silly, but they said it’s highly unusual for them to speak with customers who know about this stuff as much as I do, so I was very proud thanks to all of you! :beer
Great summary.
Thanks for posting.
I hope this will encourage others that might otherwise be reluctant to have in depth talks with Vanguard Reps.

My experiences:

I've had similar positive experiences, though in my case every presentation was "cookie cutter". However, my present account rep has been responsive even though I am not signed up for VPAS. With a "Bogle Portfolio", there's not much to discuss after all except repeat the website "Portfolio Evaluation".

Yes. I was also under the impression that the portfolio reps were not used to talking to a "Boglehead" that had their own input for things. They seemed "under the clock" and a bit rushed. Perhaps a daily quota of customers to fill.

They did not push ETF's with me. But, this was nearly 8 years ago so maybe things have changed. I prefer the simplicity of mutuals anyway.

Schwab reps pushed TIPS a bit on my consultations in the long past. Vanguard did not mention them.

Questions:
1
Can you explain the difference you found between Vanguards EF suggestion and Schwab? :?:
2
I was not aware that VPAS for "Vanguard Flagship Select" was different than 0.3%. Do you know what it is? :?:

Thanks,
j :happy

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michaeljmroger
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Re: Insights From a Long Call With Vanguard Reps Today

Post by michaeljmroger » Mon Jun 10, 2019 10:50 am

Sandtrap wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 7:52 am
They did not push ETF's with me. But, this was nearly 8 years ago so maybe things have changed.
Indeed, it's a fairly recent thing.
Sandtrap wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 7:52 am
Can you explain the difference you found between Vanguards EF suggestion and Schwab? :?:
Vanguard recommend around 6 months of expenses in EF (they thought I was overly conservative with my $200k in VUSXX). Schwab typically allocates 5% of your entire portfolio in cash, which is insane if you ask me, especially considering the fact that their cash solutions aren't remotely as good as Vanguard's. They wrote many articles about the role of cash in a portfolio but, it doesn't resonate with me to say the least.
Sandtrap wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 7:52 am
I was not aware that VPAS for "Vanguard Flagship Select" was different than 0.3%. Do you know what it is? :?:
See the "Annual Fee Schedule" section at https://personal.vanguard.com/web/c1/fi ... al-advisor

alex_686
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Re: Insights From a Long Call With Vanguard Reps Today

Post by alex_686 » Mon Jun 10, 2019 11:08 am

jeffyscott wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 6:12 am
Well, they said "encouraging", so it's really just semantics. What's clear is that they changed how expenses are assigned recently to the benefit of the ETF investors. Until recently the expense ratios were the same between Admiral shares and ETFs, Vanguard chose to change that.
I will disagree with that. The cost structure of running a ETF is lower than that of a mutual fund. Customer records are the broker's issue, not the mutual fund's. Daily reporting requirements are easier. You outsource your trading desk. etc.
columbia wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 6:16 am
I’m ok paying an extra 0.01% (or whatever the difference is) for the automatic investing convenience.
I like manual cars. I think that they are better than automatics. That being said, I know that they are on the way out. Same thing with mutual funds. ETFs have a superior cost structure. If you noticed, most new products and ETFS. Also, while ETFs have lower AUM they have higher cash inflows than mutual funds. The switch won't happen for a few years, but it is happening.

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michaeljmroger
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Re: Insights From a Long Call With Vanguard Reps Today

Post by michaeljmroger » Mon Jun 10, 2019 11:12 am

alex_686 wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 11:08 am
columbia wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 6:16 am
I’m ok paying an extra 0.01% (or whatever the difference is) for the automatic investing convenience.
I like manual cars. I think that they are better than automatics. That being said, I know that they are on the way out. Same thing with mutual funds. ETFs have a superior cost structure. If you noticed, most new products and ETFS. Also, while ETFs have lower AUM they have higher cash inflows than mutual funds. The switch won't happen for a few years, but it is happening.
For me personally, the only thing that prevents me from switching to ETFs is the lack of automatic withdrawals. Probably negligible for many, but not for me.

It's also worth noting not every fund as an ETF alternative (e.g. Vanguard's tax-managed mutual funds).

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jeffyscott
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Re: Insights From a Long Call With Vanguard Reps Today

Post by jeffyscott » Mon Jun 10, 2019 11:27 am

alex_686 wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 11:08 am
jeffyscott wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 6:12 am
Well, they said "encouraging", so it's really just semantics. What's clear is that they changed how expenses are assigned recently to the benefit of the ETF investors. Until recently the expense ratios were the same between Admiral shares and ETFs, Vanguard chose to change that.
I will disagree with that...
Not sure how you can disagree with objective facts. Vanguard had charged the same for Admiral and ETF in the past, now they don't.

Vanguard has a long history of keeping the expense ratios of ETFs and Admiral Shares mutual funds the exact same (posted 2017)
https://www.mymoneyblog.com/vanguard-et ... hares.html

As of 2019, this is no longer the case.
https://www.mymoneyblog.com/vanguard-et ... hares.html
Time is your friend; impulse is your enemy. - John C. Bogle

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vineviz
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Re: Insights From a Long Call With Vanguard Reps Today

Post by vineviz » Mon Jun 10, 2019 11:57 am

jeffyscott wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 11:27 am
Not sure how you can disagree with objective facts. Vanguard had charged the same for Admiral and ETF in the past, now they don't.
That doesn't meant that Vanguard "changed how expenses are assigned". It means that the expenses associated with managing the ETF share classes have fallen below the expenses associated with the Admiral share classes.

Given that the ETF share classes are growing about 50% faster than mutual fund share classes, it should not be surprising that economies of scale are manifesting.
"Far more money has been lost by investors preparing for corrections than has been lost in corrections themselves." ~~ Peter Lynch

Workable Goblin
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Re: Insights from Vanguard

Post by Workable Goblin » Mon Jun 10, 2019 12:04 pm

Nutmeg wrote:
Sat Jun 08, 2019 3:54 pm
Someone who has already retired and has no earned income doesn’t have access to tax-deferred accounts, so taxable accounts are the only option for investing in LifeStrategy Funds.
I feel like I should note that because of IRS rules around what counts as "earned income" for IRA purposes, it is possible for someone who is working to also have no access to tax-deferred accounts, if for no other reason than that I have found myself in precisely this position this year. It's very uncommon, of course, but it can happen.

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GerryL
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Re: Insights from Vanguard

Post by GerryL » Mon Jun 10, 2019 12:22 pm

Nutmeg wrote:
Sat Jun 08, 2019 3:54 pm
klaus14 wrote:
Thu Jun 06, 2019 1:41 am
michaeljmroger wrote:
Thu Jun 06, 2019 12:47 am
I had a very long call with Vanguard today. We discussed many different topics and I thought some of the things they said might interest some of you, so here are some of my notes and impressions:
  • Not exactly surprising but, they agreed LifeStrategy funds aren’t suited for taxable accounts.
thanks for sharing. i guess this is because bond distributions.
Could someone please explain this in more detail? It seems to me that a LifeStrategy Fund provides the benefit of automatic rebalancing. Someone who has already retired and has no earned income doesn’t have access to tax-deferred accounts, so taxable accounts are the only option for investing in LifeStrategy Funds. If taxable income is low, the taxability of bond distributions isn’t much of a factor. Are there other considerations I should take into account?
I started investing my taxable $$ in Balanced Index Fund before I understood the tax implications of the 40% bond portion. It's been so many years now that swapping out to consolidate all of my bonds in tax-advantaged accounts would have serious tax consequences. I live with it. My overall AA is 60/40, so the 60/40 Balanced AA simplifies things. Well, except when it comes to rebalancing international equity holdings. If I knew then what I know now …?

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Re: Insights From a Long Call With Vanguard Reps Today

Post by jeffyscott » Mon Jun 10, 2019 12:29 pm

vineviz wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 11:57 am
jeffyscott wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 11:27 am
Not sure how you can disagree with objective facts. Vanguard had charged the same for Admiral and ETF in the past, now they don't.
That doesn't meant that Vanguard "changed how expenses are assigned". It means that the expenses associated with managing the ETF share classes have fallen below the expenses associated with the Admiral share classes.
So, for every ETF the expenses associated with managing it were exactly the same as those for the Admiral shares from the day the first Vanguard ETF (VIPER) was created. Vanguard did nothing to make this happen, it was all just coincidence.

Then suddenly within the last year, these same expenses for every Vanguard ETF became less than those for Admiral shares. Again it was all just coincidence, Vanguard did nothing to make this happen.
Time is your friend; impulse is your enemy. - John C. Bogle

latak215
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Re: Insights From a Long Call With Vanguard Reps Today

Post by latak215 » Mon Jun 10, 2019 12:31 pm

Thanks for sharing your meeting. I am glad vg is going to update their website. I believe jack was unhappy with growing emphasis on etfs, but became necessary to accommodate customer trends.

alex_686
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Re: Insights From a Long Call With Vanguard Reps Today

Post by alex_686 » Mon Jun 10, 2019 12:40 pm

jeffyscott wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 12:29 pm
So, for every ETF the expenses associated with managing it were exactly the same as those for the Admiral shares from the day the first Vanguard ETF (VIPER) was created. Vanguard did nothing to make this happen, it was all just coincidence.

Then suddenly within the last year, these same expenses for every Vanguard ETF became less than those for Admiral shares. Again it was all just coincidence, Vanguard did nothing to make this happen.
More or less, yes.

I have worked on systems to allocate shared expenses between mutual funds and their classes. At the start these expenses complex and small so the correct cost consideration is not to allocate these expenses and just lump them together. After all, you don't want to spend more on allocating the costs then the actual costs themselves. But then the cost grow so the extra complexity is warranted. The SEC reviews and audits this stuff, and they do ask sharp questions around this. A project is launched, a couple of thousand hours latter a new computer module is added, and the new process is flipped on for the entire fund family complex. And you basically have to flip it on for the who fund family at the same time.

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Re: Insights from Vanguard

Post by pkcrafter » Mon Jun 10, 2019 3:29 pm

newcollegeman wrote:
Thu Jun 06, 2019 10:00 am
bondsr4me,

I asked if we could come & take the Vg reps to lunch. They thanked me, but said their ethics policy wouldn't allow it. So, we settled for a face-to-face in a conference room at their place. I took the whole family!

Was perhaps the best investment meeting we've ever had. I cannot say enough about the superb care & interest taken. Vanguard has always exceeded our expectations & won multi-generational admiration in our family.

newcollegeman
Enlightening post. I'll bet Vanguard will be very happy when they hear 600 Bogleheads are showing up for a meeting! :D

Paul
When times are good, investors tend to forget about risk and focus on opportunity. When times are bad, investors tend to forget about opportunity and focus on risk.

BigJohn
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Re: Insights from Vanguard

Post by BigJohn » Mon Jun 10, 2019 8:21 pm

joeschmo wrote:
Thu Jun 06, 2019 1:21 pm
- Bond allocation - they use 30% ltd term tax exempt, 40% interm term tax exempt, 30% longer
I’ve seen this from VG before and done the calculation and the average duration of this mix is almost identical to the IT muni funds. I’m still not sure why VG recommends this complexity vs 100% IT fund. Anyone understand or have an explanation from VG on this?

Explorer
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Re: Insights From a Long Call With Vanguard Reps Today

Post by Explorer » Mon Jun 10, 2019 8:56 pm

The ER differences between ETFs and OEFs (in my opinion) are minor. Is it possible that ETFs are being pushed because VG may make money lending them? I don't believe OEFs are optionable.

Just a thought..

alex_686
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Re: Insights From a Long Call With Vanguard Reps Today

Post by alex_686 » Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:08 pm

Explorer wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 8:56 pm
The ER differences between ETFs and OEFs (in my opinion) are minor. Is it possible that ETFs are being pushed because VG may make money lending them? I don't believe OEFs are optionable.

Just a thought..
Probably not.

There are conflicts of interest here, which would minimize the push and limit profits. Next, Vanguard ETFs are not popular lending options. What you want here is a active option market, which does not exist.

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FrugalInvestor
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Re: Insights From a Long Call With Vanguard Reps Today

Post by FrugalInvestor » Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:10 pm

retiredjg wrote:
Sun Jun 09, 2019 9:52 am
fortyofforty wrote:
Sun Jun 09, 2019 9:44 am
But Vanguard has the Bogleheads. I don't think Fidelity has anything equivalent. Perhaps there are Fidoheads out there, of which I'm unaware.
Now that's an interesting thought. :happy
FidoFans :beer
IGNORE the noise! | Our life is frittered away by detail... simplify, simplify. - Henry David Thoreau

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vineviz
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Re: Insights from Vanguard

Post by vineviz » Tue Jun 11, 2019 9:30 am

BigJohn wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 8:21 pm
joeschmo wrote:
Thu Jun 06, 2019 1:21 pm
- Bond allocation - they use 30% ltd term tax exempt, 40% interm term tax exempt, 30% longer
I’ve seen this from VG before and done the calculation and the average duration of this mix is almost identical to the IT muni funds. I’m still not sure why VG recommends this complexity vs 100% IT fund. Anyone understand or have an explanation from VG on this?
Two main reasons

1) This 30/40/30 allocation produces a similar duration to 100% intermediate but with higher convexity, which most investors prefer.

2) Splitting the allocation makes it easier to manage the average duration of the whole portfolio over time, since the ratio of the three funds can be gradually adjusted.

If you're hiring an advisor to manage the portfolio (as with Vanguard's PAS) and there are no transaction fees, there is not any marginal cost to having three bond funds thus even a small marginal benefit makes it worthwhile to do so.
"Far more money has been lost by investors preparing for corrections than has been lost in corrections themselves." ~~ Peter Lynch

BigJohn
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Re: Insights From a Long Call With Vanguard Reps Today

Post by BigJohn » Tue Jun 11, 2019 6:07 pm

vineviz, thanks for the explanation. Since I self manage and don’t need to tweak the duration, I’ll stick with just IT for simplicity but glad to understand why VG PAS is recommending.

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Re: Insights From a Long Call With Vanguard Reps Today

Post by hungrywave » Tue Jun 11, 2019 6:42 pm

michaeljmroger wrote:
Thu Jun 06, 2019 12:47 am
I had a very long call with Vanguard today. We discussed many different topics and I thought some of the things they said might interest some of you, so here are some of my notes and impressions:
Thank you, michaeljmroger! :sharebeer

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