Thursday, November 16, 2006

Dining with Investment Legend Jack Bogle

There are few people in my line of work who can be called legends. There are fewer still who are living legends. Warren Buffett is one. Jack Bogle is another.

Yesterday I had the honor of interviewing Bogle for my MoneyMasters video program. Afterwards, I had the pleasure of taking him to lunch. He is a wonderful and gracious man.

As most investors know, Bogle is an advocate for passive investing. Because he believes investors cannot expect to do better than average in the long run, they are best served buying index funds that have very low fees. He has strongly criticized the money management industry for putting its own interests ahead of investors' interests. In particular, he says funds run by public corporations and conglomerates focus on maximizing returns for owners and managers--not for investors.

Bogle is a man who could have been fabulously wealthy. Instead, he created a mutual fund company, The Vanguard Group, based on minimizing fees. His whole life mission has been to increase the wealth of his investors rather than his own. While I'm sure he is comfortably well off, there is no question he could have done better for himself if he had chosen that as his goal. It was extremely refreshing to be in the company of a man who truly cares about ethics.

I learned a lot about Bogle during lunch. He told me how he had to work his way through Princeton, and how he almost failed. He told me he struggled with Paul Samuelson's economics text, but getting through that book marked a turning point in his life. He told me about some of his conversations with Warren Buffett. Many people would be surprised to learn that Buffett actually favors index funds for ordinary investors.

Bogle is an incredibly prolific writer. He has written several books. There are many more written about him. He roams the country delivering speeches. Best of all, he is more than willing to share his knowledge and opinions. You can read many of his writings at his personal website.

While we were having lunch, I noticed many people in the restaurant looking our way. Of course, they recognized Bogle. As we were leaving, one gentleman got up and came over to say hello. He thanked Bogle for sticking up for integrity in the money management industry.

My MoneyMasters interview with Jack Bogle will be available for viewing on Nov. 30. This is one video you won't want to miss.