Less than two months before his death, John C. "Jack" Bogle, known as "the father of indexing," urged the industry to look beyond the success of the low-cost investment vehicle that helped propel Vanguard Group to its current status as the world's second-largest money manager. He challenged his peers to contend with the future of indexing, should its widespread acceptance continue on its current trajectory.
It was the contrarian in Mr. Bogle, who died Jan. 16 at the age of 89 in Bryn Mawr, Pa., that envisioned "The Vanguard Experiment," a deviation from the industry status quo as far as the corporate structure of a typical mutual fund complex. But he earned his reputation as the investor's advocate, after he brought his brand of low-
cost, accessible investing to market in 1976 with the first index mutual fund.
More than four decades later, Mr. Bogle, still the advocate, questioned how the community could counter looming consequences of the massive shift toward indexing, while acknowledging the "enormous value" index funds still provide, he wrote in a November op-ed in The Wall Street Journal.
He warned investors to consider the outcome: "If historical trends continue, a handful of giant institutional investors will one day hold voting control of virtually every large U.S. corporation," Mr. Bogle wrote. "Public policy cannot ignore this growing dominance, and consider its impact on the financial markets, corporate governance and regulation. These will be major issues in the coming era."
This mindset was "a typical John Bogle way of thinking — what are (the) implications of what people are doing?" said John Casey, the now-retired former chairman of Casey Quirk, a New York-based business of Deloitte Consulting LLP, who met Mr. Bogle in the 1970s.
In fact, Mr. Bogle had gone down this path with Mr. Casey when they spoke in September as he was working on the opinion piece.
"He was really concerned about what would be the implications of too many people starting to index. Everybody was looking for lower cost (options), but everybody followed the same strategy," Mr. Casey recalled of their September phone call.
"He's been at the forefront of so many forward-thinking, but also very practical, investment solutions," Mr. Casey said in a phone interview. "John Bogle was a man who, if a door was shut, would find a way to walk through it."