Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Vanguard Founder Endorses Kerry


Heartbroken, Bogle began looking for a way to reform the mutual-fund industry. The quest led him to found the Vanguard Group. The start was shaky, but through faith, drive and perseverance, Vanguard eventually flourished. With low costs and innovations such as index funds, Bogle and his "crew members" (he dislikes the word employee) revolutionized the way ordinary folk invest. Today, Malvern-based Vanguard is one of the two largest mutual-fund organizations in the world, with assets of $750 billion.

Bogle, the epitome of the WASP establishment, was determined to build a business based on character, integrity and service. This year, Time magazine named the retired Vanguard founder one of the world's 100 most powerful, influential people.

Leadership is something that has fascinated Bogle, 75, all his life. In speeches on the subject, Bogle approvingly quotes Goethe: "Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now."

But "there's a fine line between boldness and recklessness," cautions Bogle, a Republican who intends to vote for John Kerry. Boldness must be tempered by foresight and deliberation, Bogle says.

"We can't have a country run by philosophers," says Bogle, who chairs the board of the National Constitution Center. "But a good leader is thoughtful. He seeks the counsel of others and is capable of introspection. Before making a decision, he walks around it and tries to see it from all sides."

A sense of fallibility helps a leader, Bogle says. It inhibits arrogance, tames boldness so it doesn't lapse into recklessness.

"If you can't admit you're wrong, you have a problem," Bogle says, "because we're all wrong so often. Why is admitting it so awful?"