Yesterday’s passing of an industry legend left an unmatched legacy and shoes so large they may never be filled again.

Jack Bogle, beyond his genius for innovating the way we invest, was a provocateur, a champion for the people, the little guy who didn’t come from trust fund money, who viewed life as a tightrope walk from paycheck to paycheck. He could have coined the phrase, “Power to the people!” He didn’t but that was his mindset.

He revolutionized the way we would come to see money, make money, keep money, and he taught us how to make our bleak futures brighter through understanding the importance of self-reliance and making a personal commitment to a lifetime of smart financial stewardship.

He was one of the original apostles of personal finance, and, respectfully, a wise grandfather to everyone that came after him in the investment industry.

Stay invested, let time do the work, cut costs, don’t speculate…all themes that he evangelized up until only a few months before his death. If everyone listened to Jack Bogle, we would all be richer for it. and not just in money terms.

Above all, he went long on “character.”

Wall Street shorted character long ago.

To commemorate his passing, a very small selection of the representative wisdom of John Clifton Bogle:

  • Time is your friend; impulse is your enemy.
  • If you have trouble imagining a 20% loss in the stock market, you shouldn’t be in stocks. 
  • In the long run, investing is not about markets at all. Investing is about enjoying the returns earned by businesses. 
  • The courage to press on regardless – regardless of whether we face calm seas or rough seas, and especially when the market storms howl around us – is the quintessential attribute of the successful investor. 
  • The mutual fund industry has been built, in a sense, on witchcraft. 
  • It’s amazing how difficult it is for a man to understand something if he’s paid a small fortune not to understand it. 
  • Hint: money flows into most funds after good performance, and goes out when bad performance follows.
  • We live in a very risky world and investors should not get “carried away” with excessive allocations to equities, or for that matter, real estate. As always asset allocation and low cost and broad diversification will be essential in earning one’s fair share of whatever returns our financial markets are generous enough to bestow upon us.
  • The miracle of compounding returns has been overwhelmed by the tyranny of compounding costs. 
  • Surprise! The returns reported by mutual funds aren’t actually earned by mutual fund investors. 
  • Your success in investing will depend in part on your character and guts, and in part on your ability to realize at the height of ebullience and the depth of despair alike that this too shall pass.
  • Don’t look for the needle in the haystack. Just buy the haystack! 
  • I believe that the behavior of too many of our corporations investment bankers and fund managers has jeopardized some of the trust that investors have had. It’s not the economic engine that we need to focus on, but the need to make sure that our investors receive their fair share of the returns that that great economic system produces. 

Thank you, Jack Bogle, for a lifetime of ingenuity, influence, positive rebellion and your rock-ribbed character.

Leave a Reply

You have to agree to the comment policy.