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Money Management

Vanguard founder John C. Bogle remembered as retirement-industry icon

John C. Bogle

Vanguard Group founder John C. Bogle, who died Wednesday at age 89, was remembered by colleagues across the retirement and asset management industry.

Best known as the creator of the index mutual fund, Mr. Bogle was “an icon in the mutual fund industry,” said Abigail P. Johnson, chairwoman and CEO of Fidelity Investments, in a statement. “He more or less single-handedly popularized index funds. Jack was always a tough competitor of ours and kept us on our toes, and for that I am grateful.”

The investment industry has lost a legend, said State Street Corp. (STT) President and CEO Ronald P. O'Hanley in a statement. “Mr. Bogle's devotion to index investing transformed the industry and provided a low-cost entry point for savers.”

Others remembered Mr. Bogle for his character.

“The world will sorely miss Jack Bogle's unique combination of generosity of spirit — helping community and others — combined with an energetic proselytizing zeal — to make the world a less costly place for savers and investors,” said Olivia S. Mitchell, executive director of the Pension Research Council and professor of insurance and risk management at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

“Jack Bogle democratized investing,” Pensions & Investments' former Editor Michael J. Clowes said. “Through his creation of the first index mutual fund he made it possible for individual investors to gain exposure to the broad stock market, thus acquiring a diversified portfolio at low cost. Though derided as 'Bogle's folly' initially, the index fund has made 401(k) plans suitable as retirement vehicles for millions of workers because of that low cost.”

P&I's group publisher Christopher J. Battaglia said Mr. Bogle “was a tireless advocate for the individual investor and the institutional investor vis-a-vis the defined contribution/401(k) industry. There are many investment professionals who have put their own self-interests aside for the betterment of our business, but Jack stood out as a true pioneer. To this day, the culture he established at Vanguard remains unique. P&I will always be grateful for his many contributions to our publication, brand and audience. We are better off as an industry due to his many contributions.”

Mr. Bogle formed his firm in September 1974 to handle the administrative functions of Wellington Management's funds, and The Vanguard Group of Investment Cos. began operation in May 1975.

Today, it's the largest manager of mutual funds for U.S. defined contribution plans, Pensions & Investments' latest survey shows. As of Dec. 31, Vanguard managed $4.9 trillion in global assets.

James Comtois contributed to this article.