Three Financial Pioneers Create the Power of Index Investing

The Conception of Index Investing

In 1974 John Bogle founded and created The Vanguard Group – now one the world’s largest mutual fund companies offering 120 different mutual funds holding over $1 trillion.  In 1975, Mr. Bogle championed the first low-cost, index fund which transformed the mutual fund industry crediting him with the title “Father of Index Investing”.    His investment philosophy was simple; it advocated capturing market returns by investing in broad-based index mutual funds that are characterized as no-load, low-cost, low-turnover and passively managed.

Bogle felt that indexing was a logically compelling method of investing. “In the world of investing, there are very, very few sure things. But the closest thing to a sure thing is that the Wilshire 5000 index will outperform actively-managed funds by 1.5 to 2 percentage points a year over a sustained period. The logic behind this startling fact is as follows:  all mutual fund managers together provide average investment performance, but in fact, investing in an index fund that matches the average market return can be your best chance of getting an above average return compared to other non-indexing investors.

His theory was supported by three crucial points: superior diversification/allocation, lower annual operating expenses and lower taxes.  Bogle felt that indexers had the advantage of these three things plus steady, cumulative power of broad diversification and lower expenses, not just short pockets of strong investment performance such as in 1995, 1996 and 1997.


People Begin to Take Notice

After 3 years of excellent performance, two the world’s most respected financial experts took notice and began to research Bogle’s theories – they wanted to take an acadeic approach to proving his theories.  Rex Sinquefield and Roger Ibbotson sought out to create strong theoretical support for indexing and they did just that. In 1979 they published Stocks, Bonds, Bills and Inflation (SSBI) which is now updated annually and serves as the standard reference for informaiton on investment market returns.  Together Sinquefield and Ibbotson executed a large volume of academic studies examining the performances of mutual funds under actual market conditions establishing, very convincingly, that the ‘beat the market’ efforts of investors who pick stocks and time markets are impressively and overwhelmingly negative. In contrast, they found that indexing stands on solid theoretical grounds, has enormous empirical support and works very well for investors. The message ofindexing is therefore unmistakably obvious: they found that the only consistent superior performer is the market itself and the only way to capture that superior consistency is to invest in a properly diversified portfolio of index funds.

After publishing their study, Sinquefield became the co-chairman for Dimentional Fund Advisors, an index mutual fund manager that began in 1981 – a company that now holds $227.6 billion in assets.  Roger Ibbotson, who was already a professor at Yale, founded Ibbotson and Associates which continued to focus on bridging the gap between academic knowledge and industry practice on asset allocation.  For over 30 years Roger Ibbotson has been committed to delivering innovative asset allocation solutions, helping investors reach their financial goals and providing asset allocation thought leadership to money managers, mutual fund companies and other investors all over the globe.  Still today, Ibbotson supports his roots and is a Board Member, one of 9 “Academic Leaders”, which advises Dimentional Fund Avisors – the world’s leading index mutual fund manager.

You owe it to yourself to check out the benefits of index investing…