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Character Counts : The Creation and Building of the Vanguard Group Hardcover – March 25, 2002

2.4 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"The founder of Vanguard Group's new book makes you wish everyone in business would read it--and heed it..." -- Robert Barker, BusinessWeek

From the Back Cover

How John Bogle Built Vanguard and Transformed the Investment World­­In His Own Words

Vanguard has introduced generations of independent investors to the wealth-building might of the U.S. stock market. But it owes its existence to the visionary genius and dogged tenacity of one man­­John C. Bogle, one of the last of a breed of principled and unbending financial legends.

Over the years, Bogle's prescient and fiery speeches to the burgeoning Vanguard staff have also become legend. Character Counts collects those speeches in one volume. More than just an insider's portrait of the reasons behind Vanguard's remarkable success, however, it is a fascinating oral history of the too-long-in-coming empowerment of America's independent investor­­and the take-no-prisoners attitude of the man who dedicated his life to making it happen.

What they're saying about John Bogle . . .

"I date my success as an investor from the day I met Jack Bogle and learned about index mutual funds."­­Jane Bryant Quinn, Newsweek columnist, author, Making the Most of Your Money

"(Bogle is) the investment genius who defied conventional wisdom and proved his critics wrong."­­William E. Simon, former Secretary of the Treasury

"Jack Bogle is one of the great pioneer/visionaries of the investment business."­­Byron R. Wien, Chief U.S. Investment Strategist, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

"(Bogle is) a solid advisor in the world of charlatans, false prophets, and hysterics."­­Financial Times

"Jack Bogle (is) the Molotov cocktail-throwing founder of Vanguard Group."­­Robert Barker, BusinessWeek Online

"John C. Bogle (has) the mind of an economist and the personality of a preacher."

­­The Washington Post

Vanguard has grown to become the world's largest no-load mutual fund organization and by far the world's lowest-cost provider of financial services to independent investors. But far more than its unprecedented size and remarkable rate of growth, it is Vanguard's concern for the rights of the independent investor that mark it as the most truly progressive company in the mutual fund industry . . .

And its founder Jack Bogle as the industry's greatest visionary.

Character Counts presents Bogle at his most straightforward and unvarnished, through the words and ideas of forty-two actual speeches­­complete with newlywritten commentary­­that he has given to Vanguard crew members since Vanguard's founding in 1974. At times fierce and funny, calculated and compassionate, Bogle's words represent an entertaining and insightful chronicle of Vanguard, the mutual fund industry, and the late-twentieth century financial markets.

This remarkable book provides a uniquely candid window into the opinions, ideas, and human values of the man Fortune called "one of the four key financial figures of the twentieth century." Step inside as Jack Bogle holds court on:

  • The Vanguard Experiment­­Learn how Vanguard­­formed to benefit investors, not managers­­changed the fund industry.
  • Persistence­­Bogle discusses how his strongest quality in establishing Vanguard­­stubborn persistence­­has been the key to building a company that can stay the course.
  • Principles­­ He eschews contemporary buzzwords to emphasize corporate character, stewardship, and service to human beings­­and demands that his company never lose its soul.
  • Organizing for Success­­Driving home the mission of the firm, Bogle brings the crew aboard HMS Vanguard with inspiring calls to join in the battle for competitive success
  • The Legacy­­Bogle hammers home the importance of fair dealing, value, performance, and integrity.

John Bogle has been called the conscience of the mutual fund industry, but that tells only half the tale. Character Counts recounts the real-life struggles John Bogle endured in launching his crusade and seeing it through and the deeplyheld principles that he strove to instill in all who worked with him. At times both humorous and serious­­like the man himself­­this engaging and enlightening collection will be an indispensable addition to the library of every investment historian and Bogle aficionado.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill; 1 edition (March 25, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0071391150
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071391153
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,403,816 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John C. Bogle (Bryn Mawr, PA) is Founder of The Vanguard Group, Inc., and President of the Bogle Financial Markets Research Center. He created Vanguard in 1974 and served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer until 1996 and Senior Chairman until 2000. He had been associated with a predecessor company since 1951, immediately following his graduation from Princeton University, magna cum laude in Economics. The Vanguard Group is one of the two largest mutual fund organizations in the world. Headquartered in Malvern, Pennsylvania, Vanguard comprises more than 100 mutual funds with current assets totaling about $742 billion. Vanguard 500 Index Fund, the largest fund in the group, was founded by Mr. Bogle in 1975. In 2004, TIME magazine named Mr. Bogle as one of the world's 100 most powerful and influential people, and Institutional Investor presented him with its Lifetime Achievement Award. In 1999, FORTUNE designated him as one of the investment industry's four "Giants of the 20th Century." In the same year, he received the Woodrow Wilson Award from Princeton University for distinguished achievement in the nation's service."

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I can't imagine anyone more qualified to write a book titled "Character Counts" than Jack Bogle--often called "The Concience of the Industry." I have read his other books, and his writing gets better and better.
With newspaper headlines describing the ethical failures of Enron, Arthur Anderson, and others, "Character Counts" could not come at a better time. The book is primarily the speeches of Chairman Bogle to his "crew" at the Vanguard company which he founded 27 years ago. A significant portion of the book contains pages bordered in black which explain the phenominal growth of Vanguard and what is happening between speeches.
It is exhilarating and reassuring to read words such as these from the CEO of the second largest mutual fund company in the world:
"Tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth--with no strings attached--and let the chips fall where they may."
"Good ethics is good business."
"One of my principal concerns has been that growth not be allowed to deprive us of the character that got us here in the first place."
"Our shareholders. We must never let them down."
"Treat human beings--from the highest to the humblest--with respect and honor"
"Do what's right. If you're not sure, ask your boss."
"We are utterly committed to a policy that puts a premium on human dignity. We shall succeed by example--from the very top down--and violations will simply not be tolerated."
I finished this book today. Its author, Jack Bogle, sets an example of how to run a business--and live life to the fullest (with a failing heart that eventually was replaced.
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Format: Hardcover
Several reviewers say not to buy this book because it repeats itself over & over. That is just the point that these people (who must have low SAT scores) missed; namely that virtue and honor do not change.We all learn by repetition and that is what Mr. Bogle does. Vanguard was and continues to be founded on bedrock solid honest principles that will not change.He is especially cognizant of his "Crew" (they are above employees)and their constant contribution to the success of Vanguard. Mr Bogle had a heart transpant in 1996 and remains in vigorous and good health. My favorite quotation of his is "The past is history. The furure's a mystery. Today is a gift. That's why we call it the present." (Page 272) This book could be sold in Christian Bookstores. I am sure many in the financial world cannot or will not understand it.I bought 5 copies of this book to give to my family & friends. It not only gives a history of the stock market for the last 80 years (and the shenanigans), but a wonderful lesson in CHARACTER COUNTS.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
i love books by successful leaders, from John Wooden to Jack Welch
John Bogle is the founder of Vanguard Funds and I admire his low cost index fund investment approach.
however, i am greatly disappointed with this book as Mr. Bogle delivered mostly a history of Vanguard and little about the wisdom behind his success. the book reads like a corporate marketing material with little insightful analysis.
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By Ken on September 8, 2014
Format: Hardcover
My book was Signed by John C Bogle. It was a hell of a deal. Purchased used
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Format: Hardcover
Bogle being an icon, I thought this would be a good book to pick up. The autobiographical elements are not extensive, as we pick up the story with Mr. Bogle's undergrad Princeton thesis on how an investment company should ideally be run. This starts the structural framework in which Bogle's character would be given expression. People of high character might also be found running mutual funds with higher fee structures, which are raked off for the funds owners, but that would not be as good for the investing public. Bogle backs this up with the math from the inception of his company--really the company owned by the investors, so let's say the inception of his "crew"--showing that administrative costs came down over time, as assets grew.
This is not high writing, but is essentially a group of speeches to the crew over the years, in the nature of tribal storytelling, or annual reports. Over the years, Bogle ends each speech with a spiritiual reference, and after his heart transplant, these get more explicitly Biblical.
Although this book stands on its own feet, what I miss about it is the critical element that probably must await an outside biographer, much as Robert Sobel was able to bring alive the investment bankers of Dillon Read in a way we would not have obtained from reading corporate reports written by the leading owner at any given period of time. So this book is a step along that path, or a good faith offering of perspective by the guy who was and is right in the middle of it.
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