Our aspiration: Keep changing the way the world invests
04 February 2019 | Topical insights
When I stepped into the role of CEO, I was humbled and excited to lead a company with a remarkable history and an extremely bright future. The recent passing of our founder, Jack Bogle, only reinforces the responsibility with which Vanguard has been entrusted. He taught all of us at Vanguard many lessons, first and foremost the importance of listening to clients, caring for them as "honest-to-God, down-to-earth human beings", and working tirelessly on their behalf.
Over the past 12 months, I've had the chance to meet with hundreds of clients – individuals, institutions and financial advisers – and hear what they value most about Vanguard and how we could serve them better. What strikes me most is how these conversations echo what I found when I joined Vanguard 27 years ago. It was clear, even early in my career, that the cards were stacked against most investors. Hidden fees and performance-chasing were relentlessly eroding investors' dreams. We knew Vanguard could be different and, as a result, could make a real difference for clients.
It all boils down to this: Everything we do at Vanguard is designed to give clients the best chance for investment success. We've built our company around the conviction that you rely on us to look out for your best interests – helping to make sure you get a fair shake from us and from our industry.
I am exceptionally proud of Vanguard's work to make things better. We've proven over the decades that strong fund performance and great service can be delivered at a very low cost. That formula has benefited not only Vanguard clients but also all investors, as the cost of investing has steadily decreased. Since I joined Vanguard, our US funds' asset-weighted average expense ratio has dropped by more than 65%, from 32 basis points to 11. The US industry has followed suit with a 28% reduction, from 86 basis points to 62. We believe investors around the world will benefit from similar low-cost investing trends as we expand in Europe, Asia, Australia and the Americas.
While most people associate Vanguard with low-cost funds, your success depends on more than just low costs. It requires ongoing investment in high-performing mutual funds and exchange traded funds (ETFs), trusted advice and perspectives, and a world-class client experience.
High-performing funds and ETFs
Beyond keeping costs in check, high-quality investment management is fundamental for long-term outperformance. We take a principled and reliable approach to managing assets, and you should feel confident that we will never take on undue risk for higher returns; instead, we focus on prudent, enduring investment approaches to deliver long-term performance. A bitcoin fund? You'll never see one at Vanguard.
We also have built strong, sophisticated and experienced investment teams for both actively managed and indexed strategies. And we continue to bring new talent and technology to our trading desks, which operate around the clock with experts based in the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.
Trusted advice and perspective
We at Vanguard believe in the value of advice and of advisers, especially during times of uncertainty or volatility, as we're experiencing now. Our guidance, as always, is to stay the course, tune out the hyperbolic headlines and focus on elements that one can control, such as costs, saving and spending levels, and a well-balanced portfolio. This time-tested advice has served millions of investors well.
That said, it can be psychologically difficult to weather market swings, and this is where financial advice and an adviser can help by setting a plan and helping investors stick to it. Giving institutions and advisers the resources they need to counsel and guide investors through key decision points is another way we believe we can support the growing demand for advice.
We believe that advice should be delivered with the investor's interests in mind, whether it comes from a retirement plan, a robo-adviser or a financial adviser. The characteristics that mark good investments – transparency, accountability and value for the price you pay – are the same ones that mark good advice. Expanding access to good advice is a natural extension of our commitment to serve investors well.
World-class client experience
Digital platforms, including Amazon, Google and Netflix, have changed expectations for what great customer experiences look and feel like. When I started at Vanguard, we had fleets of associates answering telephone calls, with transactions printed out on dot-matrix machines and manually keyed into systems in our back-office processing centres. Today, more than 95% of our interactions with clients in the United States are via Vanguard's website.
As you should expect, we're continually upgrading our service to further lessen the burden on you. We know we can do more to make interactions with us simple and smooth. We're challenging ourselves to think differently and embrace new ways of working to give our clients more intuitive, personalised digital experiences. Each year, we invest more than US$1 billion to improve your service, all the while lowering our funds' expense ratios.
To be the best place to invest
At Vanguard, we are committed to providing the best value in the industry – low-cost, high-quality funds and services designed to deliver better outcomes, and an experience that makes you feel good about entrusting us with your investments. I'm optimistic about the future. We have a dedicated team serving you, and we will never stand still when it comes to making Vanguard the best place for you to invest.
Thank you for your continued loyalty.
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