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The House that Bogle Built: How John Bogle and Vanguard Reinvented the Mutual Fund Industry Hardcover – March 28, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Lewis Braham is a journalist whose work has appeared in a number of business publications, including BusinessWeek, SmartMoney, and Bloomberg Markets.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Education; 1 edition (March 28, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0071749063
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071749060
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #782,706 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Daniel P. Smith on May 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This book is about Bogle, about Vanguard, and about investing. It succeeds at all levels. "Almost everyone who knows Bogle thinks he works too hard," Braham says. When asked how he handled his work-life balance, Bogle replied "Badly." When a man is so intertwined with his work, you want a biography that intertwines them as well. This biography does. And it reads well.

I mean, this is a REALLY GOOD BOOK. As a long-time Vanguard investor I knew it would interest me, but I really wasn't expecting anything this good. I don't see how you could have more satisfying book about Vanguard, or about Bogle.

It's not a puff piece. Braham does not even pretend to be objective, you hear the author's voice throughout. Bogle and Vanguard are seen through the eyes of a thoughtful, informed, and definitely opinionated observer. Braham lets us know what he thinks, and he has interesting things to say about Bogle, about Vanguard, and about the "efficient market hypothesis."

If I had to pick one passage to convey the flavor of the book, it would be this (p. 187): "Bogle says he believes in market fundamentals, that ultimately the stock market's total returns will equal its dividend payouts plus earnings growth.... Unlike so many others, he actually does believe what he says.... Underlying all his bromides, such as 'Stay the course,' is a basic faith in capitalism's inexorable progress, that in the long run stocks will go up, and that if investors just squirrel away enough in their 401ks week after week, they will be rewarded, provided they don't let the croupiers of Wall Street rip them off. Such a philosophy is immensely comforting to middle-class investors who often see the value of their entire life savings bounce around like a yo-yo during one of the market's tougher weeks.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By R. Shaw on May 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover
First, this book provides a thorough and fascinating biography of Jack Bogle, one of the most influential innovators in the American financial services industry. His difficult family circumstances during his childhood are reviewed, as are his increasing health problems over the years which led to a heart transplant in 1995. To battle and accomplish all that he had up to that time is remarkable and that story alone would be worth the price of the book. His activities since 1995 are even more impressive.
In addition, the book also describes the creation of the Vanguard Group and its early struggles to establish and promote the concepts and advantages of index investing. While many now understand the rationale for index funds and index investing, these concepts were dismissed by "financial advisors" just a few decades ago. Vanguard has grown dramatically over the past four decades and it has not been without its own internal conflicts. Jack Brennan, the CEO successor to Jack Bogle, declined to participate in the book so this chapter of Vanguard's corporate existence is not as thorough as one might like.
Overall, Lewis Braham has written an excellent book and I highly recommend it. The last few chapters also explore the causes of the recent "financial meltdown" and explain some very complex financial issues and concepts in readily understandable terms.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Baby Boomer in Training on May 10, 2011
Format: Hardcover
`The House that Bogle Built' is a must read for anyone with even the slightest interest in Vanguard, the world's largest mutual fund company with 1.4 Trillion dollars under management, and the man who built it from scratch.

I've read several of John (Jack) Bogle's books and I have a pretty clear understanding of his investment philosophy. I've also had the pleasure of meeting him on two occasions, however until I read this book I had very little insight into the personal life of the man behind the iconic reputation.

Lewis Braham has done a wonderful job of getting through normally closed doors and filling the void between Jack Bogle's investment philosophy, and Jack Bogle the man. It's a fascinating story and there is more than enough material in the 291 pages of this book for HBO to create a multi season mini series if they felt so inclined.

Jack Bogle captained Vanguard (named after HMS Vanguard) on a course which gave both the small and large investor a fair shake in a world where making money almost always trumps fiscal responsibility. Jack built the only true "mutual," mutual fund company in existence, mutually owned by it's shareholders (its investors). In his own words: "Strategy follows structure" - meaning that Vanguard's mutualization leads to its behaving as a true fiduciary for its shareholders and seeking to manage funds at the lowest possible cost.

Bogle is a renaissance man. He shook up the mutual fund business by building Vanguard, and since leaving the corporate offices he continues to shake up the investment world by championing `fiduciary standards' in an industry where those words receive lip service at best. Corporate greed trumping fiduciary duty is the new normal in 2011. Vanguard is one of the very few mutual fund companies that can hold its head high when the word 'fiduciary' is spoken. We owe a lot to the visionary who founded it. Thank you Jack Bogle!

An excellent read, and I rate it 5+ stars.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Frank R. Cirullo on May 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The book is interesting and informative. It gives us a window into how Mr. Bogle assumed a leadership role and convinced management to implement his ideas on eliminating conflicts of interest. Vanguard's mutualized structure largely avoids conflicts of interest. It is a must read for every investor who has a brokerage account, IRA, 401(k), or 403(b) plan as well as every fiduciary such as a plan sponsor. Why? It shows why costs matter and how you can protect yourself from the inherent conflicts of interest at mutual fund companies.

The author, Lewis Braham, does a wonderful job of showing us how John Bogle and Vanguard reinvented the mutual fund industry. Mr. Bogle had a purpose, which guided him in making Vanguard a trusted place for fund shareholders. The less you pay for a mutual fund the more you keep in your account where it belongs. The good news for people who invest in mutual funds in their brokerage account, IRA, 401(k), or 403(b) plan is that Mr. Bogle's core principles of business can be adopted by any mutual fund company. The bad news is most mutual fund companies don't want to restructure their company the way that Vanguard did.

Mr. Bogle shared this with Mr. Braham: "I was a very confident chief executive. I certainly wanted to be chairman and president and chief executive. We were building a company from ground zero, and we needed to make decisions, and I thought I knew the decisions that had to be made."

Lewis Braham used credible sources to tell us about the issues regarding the structure of companies that sell mutual funds and the cost of mutual funds.
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