This January, the American Red Cross celebrates National Blood Donor Month and recognizes the lifesaving contribution of blood and platelet donors. Crew member Pete K. shares his story:
Like many of you, my first time donating blood was when a friend asked me to participate in a blood drive. It was easy and painless, and I remember leaving feeling like I’d made some small contribution to the community.
In the years since I’ve become more sensitive to the challenges faced by the Red Cross and other blood collection agencies. The critical need for blood products (whole blood, plasma, platelets) is satisfied by the relatively few who are willing to help through regular donations. The Red Cross reports that while almost 40% of the U.S. population are eligible to donate, less than 10% of that population actually do each year. Contrast that with the fact that every day 36,000 units of red blood cells and 7,000 units of platelets are needed in the U.S., and you have a pretty dire situation. Initially, the main driver for my donations was simply that it’s the right thing to do. But, soon it turned personal.
Why it’s so important to me
My wife, Tammie, went through a particularly tough battle with breast cancer and that struggle really made us appreciate the volunteers that donate blood products. Tammie underwent extensive and intense chemotherapy and radiation treatment – both of which can damage cells in your bone marrow, and are used to manufacture blood and platelets. The effects of these treatments are cumulative, and she became progressively weaker as her regimen progressed. Low blood count leaves patients vulnerable to a variety of infections and even bleeding, so blood donations are critical for recovery. Chances are you have a loved one, or know of someone, with a similar story. I’m happy to say that now, my wife is two years clear of any reoccurrence.
In addition to donating blood, I also donate platelets. I had friends that were doing it, and read that these type of donations are often specifically matched to an individual cancer patient. It felt like an even greater opportunity to help someone in need. Donating platelets is a fairly involved process, and more time consuming, so I typically only manage 4 or 5 of those per year. In between, I participate in blood drives at my church and Vanguard. Can you believe that in 2017, Vanguard crew donated 2,000 pints of blood? Pretty amazing!
Paying it forward
I think the reality is that many of us at some point in our lives will have a similar need, whether due to illness, accident, or scheduled surgery, so I look at donating as “paying it forward” in advance. Vanguard has a culture of crew giving back through community service programs, Volunteer Time Off days, and charitable giving (which includes generous employer matching), all centered on our commitment to what we call the “3 C’s”: clients, crew & community.
I’m grateful to work at a place where my values align with my company’s culture. My wife is pretty grateful too.
With the arrival of the new year, Vanguard welcomed a new CEO. Tim Buckley succeeds Bill McNabb (who remains chairman) as Vanguard’s chief executive—only the fourth in the company’s 42-year history. Mr. Buckley has spent his entire 26-year career at Vanguard; he has led the company’s information technology function and its individual investor business and, more recently, served as chief investment officer and president.
In this Q&A, Mr. Buckley reflects on his early years at Vanguard and talks about what’s ahead for the company and the asset management industry amid demographic shifts, innovation, and potential regulatory changes.
You’ve spent your whole career at Vanguard. What are some of your earliest memories?
My first job was as an assistant to Vanguard founder Jack Bogle. It was 1991 and I was fresh out of college. I had the opportunity to work with him on his first book—researching, editing, and proofing the manuscript.
It seems archaic now, but we did everything by hand back then. There was no Morningstar software that enabled you to run data queries. I spent grueling hours thumbing through thousands of documents, entering return numbers into Excel, and running regressions to figure out how to predict outperformance.
The results of that analysis are as true today as 26 years ago. Few managers are able to outperform their benchmarks over longer time frames, and the best predictor is cost. The lower the cost, the more likely a brilliant manager might outperform. Intellectual firepower alone wasn’t enough back then, and it isn’t today.
You’ve held a variety of positions at Vanguard. What did you learn from those roles that prepared you for becoming CEO?
From our IT leaders, I learned how to separate hype from reality and truly leverage technology for our investors. The crew in our individual investor division taught me the essential elements of client service and how to create promoters. Finally, our investment professionals demonstrated to me that the low-cost, low-risk Vanguard approach to investing could be scaled across the globe.
Vanguard is approaching $5 trillion in assets under management. How do you plan to manage that growth?
Part of the Vanguard culture is an awareness that cash flow isn’t a goal—it’s an outcome of doing the right thing for our clients. Every dollar that comes into our firm is a vote of confidence from our clients that we’ll continue to do right by them. It’s an awesome and humbling responsibility.
So yes, growth has been tremendous, but overall, Vanguard has done a very good job managing it responsibly. Given our mutual structure, we must ensure that growth benefits our existing clients. Size allows us to fund new services for clients, share economies of scale, et cetera. If growth doesn’t benefit our existing base of clients, we’ll take action as we have in the past by closing funds.
Will Vanguard be able to continue lowering costs? What else does it need to do to remain competitive?
For Vanguard to be successful, our clients must have the best chance of investment success. There are many keys to a client’s achieving that success. Keeping costs low is one of them, so we will continue to drive costs lower. Saving more, sticking to a diversified plan, and being tax-efficient are some of the others. We have made and will continue to make investments in advice, behavioral coaching, and education to ensure that clients follow these best practices.
Where do you see Vanguard’s individual investor business headed over the next decade in terms of changing technologies and services?
When I first entered the asset management business, the majority of clients interacted with their advisors face to face. There might have been some do-it-yourselfers or some decisions that were made over the phone. But for the most part, clients would sit across the table from an advisor and discuss their financial goals.
That’s obviously changed. Those face-to-face meetings can now take place by videoconference. Some investors are comfortable with a retirement plan accessed on their smartphone and generated by an algorithm. In many ways, clients are engaged now more than ever—it’s just that the interactions aren’t happening in a physical office.
But what hasn’t changed is the actual advice. Clients still crave information about how to plan for retirement or other life goals. They’re just getting that advice in a different manner.
Our individual investor business has done an excellent job adapting to this changing environment. We are heavily investing in technology and constantly improving how we interact and communicate with our clients. I think we have a huge opening there to combine our service, products, technology, and culture to improve client experiences. Vanguard Personal Advisor Services® is the latest example of doing just that.
Speaking of investing in technology, we’ve seen a lot of headlines about cybersecurity. How does Vanguard approach this issue?
Cybersecurity is at the top of my list. Safeguarding our clients’ assets and personal information is something we take very seriously, and we know that it’s top of mind for clients, too. Not many financial services companies went into business thinking they would have to defend against hostile foreign intelligence services or organized crime. But that’s essentially what’s happened, and not just in the financial services industry, of course.
The attackers are very serious about what they do, and they’re at it 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They’re sophisticated and well-funded. So is Vanguard. We invest in people and technology to protect client assets and privacy. Protecting our clients’ data is our single largest investment every year. We have a cybersecurity operations center that works 24/7 to investigate and respond to threats, and that uses National Security Agency-level tools.
Finally, let’s talk about your life outside the office. You were board chair of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Could you talk about that experience, especially in the context of the emphasis we at Vanguard place on giving back to the community?
Children’s Hospital—CHOP—is a phenomenal organization. It is a Philadelphia institution that has been around for more than 150 years. It’s regularly ranked the best children’s hospital in the country. And it is responsible for countless medical breakthroughs.
When you meet the people who are on the front lines of giving hope to terribly sick kids, not only from our area but across the country and around the world—well, it is hard not to be in awe of them. They have a noble mission to give children back their youth. They are a mission-driven organization, just like Vanguard. Similar to the crew at Vanguard, the CHOP doctors and nurses dedicate themselves to making other peoples’ lives better. It was easy to give back at CHOP, and the parallels with Vanguard run deep.
Crew share fond memories of Bill McNabb as he moves on from CEO
After more than three decades of distinguished service, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bill McNabb will step down as CEO at the end of 2017. Bill will be succeeded by President Tim Buckley, but will remain chairman of the board of directors.
Crew were invited to share their thoughts on Bill’s leadership, expertise, accomplishments, and impact over the years. Crew turned out in force to offer stories, pictures, and well wishes for Bill. We’ve captured just a few of the many, many comments below.
Congratulations Bill. It’s been a remarkable 31 years.
“Bill, thank you for the impact you have made on our company, our crew, and our industry. A special thank you for the tremendous priority you placed on community outreach and support. Not only do you leave Vanguard a better place from your leadership, but you leave our communities we serve a better place as well. The community focus you have embedded in Vanguard’s culture will have a permanent impact on generations to come. I hope you enjoy this transition, and never stop making a difference in the lives of those you meet.”
“Bill, congratulations. Your leadership has set a tone that will carry beyond your tenure, to the careers of people who are proud to call themselves crew; to living our mission that drives us all to “give all investors…the best chance for investment success”; and to living by all ‘three C’s’ through service to clients, crew, and community. Thank you for challenging us to live and work as our best selves – it truly makes the Vanguard story our story, and investors all over the world will live a better life as a result.”
“Thank you Bill for everything you have done for our clients, crew and community and making Vanguard the best place to work for me. You have been an inspiration to all of us and we are going to miss you.”
“I’ve always been grateful to work for a company like Vanguard that not only has an important mission, but that carries out that mission with the highest ethical standards. Thanks Bill for having continued to set that tone here. It’s great to be able to take pride in the work one does every day.”
“Hey Bill, looking at this photo brings a smile to my face. It was my debut as a member of senior staff. Lots of highlights Bill, here is my top 5 Bill list:
1 Client focus- building out international businesses, and your energy on serving clients globally. 2 Global mindset- no matter the setting, the culture, the country, you blend in and always adapt to how people want to be treated. 3 Positivity- the glass is always half full, and it is such a pick-up to be in your presence when we all need that little bit of positivity. 4 Fitness- in mind, body and spirit you are always learning, reading, training, and that is such an inspiration to all of us. 5 Music- you and I both have similar taste in music, and our night out at the concert shows the coolness of William McNabb.
My wife Anne is a fan of yours, and my daughter Lyla always asks me about the boss big Bill. It means so much, how you know and have connected with the James family. You have had a huge impact on me, Bill, and I still remember the call in London to accept your offer to join your team – a career highlight. Expect my call for the next concert we can go to.”
“To know even one life has breathed more easily because you have lived, that is to have succeeded” – Ralph Waldo Emerson. Thank you Bill for all your time, effort and commitment to helping so many crew, clients and members of the community breathe more easily!”
“I met Bill at a “Breakfast with Bill” event he hosted for recent college graduates in 2010 after completing my Master’s degree. A few of the things Bill said about the importance of advanced education for crew and how essential teams are for Vanguard still resonate with me today.”
“Thank you Bill for all you have done (and continue to do) for this company, our crew, and the community. Your authentic leadership, passion for our people and our business, and focus on values are hard to match – though you’ve inspired many of us, including me, to try! Enjoy this transition!”
“Thank you, Bill, for being an incredible leader and a great role model. I’ll never forget when we ended up traveling together from a meeting in Fort Worth to Omaha back in the fall of 2008, and our plane was delayed due to massive thunderstorms. We landed in Nebraska well past midnight, and you still made the car drop me off at my hotel first. (Never mind that we both got bumped from our respective hotels since it was so late!) That small act of kindness, with nary a hint of ego, inspired me to be the best possible travel companion I could be to the dozens of crewmembers I’ve traveled with over my career. I’m sure you did it without thinking twice, and to me, it spoke volumes about your character. Best of luck in the future, and I’ll close by using something that didn’t even exist when you started as CEO – a hashtag – to say #thanksBill.”
The giving season is upon us, and many Vanguard crew are making it their mission to give to the less fortunate. In this video, crew speak specifically about one very special campaign and why brightening a child’s holiday means so much to them.
Vanguard has a wonderful tradition of recognizing crew service milestones; every 5 year anniversary is marked with a certificate and a gift. This year marked my 30th anniversary, which meant both another milestone gift and a chance to take stock of my career when a few of my best friends at work hooked me up with a special celebration.
As I said to my friends and colleagues that day, it is because of the mission and values of Vanguard and its people that I have stayed 30 years. Without those ethics, I wouldn’t have lasted 30 days. It’s pretty remarkable that 30 years later I feel as connected to the mission as I did that first year.
And why not! I’ve worked with so many different types of clients – individual investors, small and large employers, manufacturers and their employees, hospitals and universities, each with unique goals and circumstances. In each case, Vanguard was there to help and I was a part of the team. During my time serving Vanguard’s nonprofit investors I came to realize I may have the skills to give back to my own community. So while I was meeting with treasurers and investment committees during the day, I spent a few evenings and weekends a year serving on a nonprofit board for an organization serving families living in poverty. The boards I have served on benefit greatly from the skills I learned at Vanguard.
Over the course of 30 years, personal and professional accomplishments overlap and Vanguard becomes a partner as well as an employer. I earned an MBA while working at Vanguard and was reimbursed for the cost with the help of an academic assistance program for crew. At some point, I also managed to get married and adopt two children. (Vanguard helps offset the cost of adoption too!)
The other great part about a career at Vanguard is that you are empowered with financial literacy. You will save money in your 401(k) plan; you will know the difference between a Roth and Traditional IRA. And if you decide to raise children, you will fund a 529 plan with regular contributions. And along with all those accomplishments, you’ll work with great people, take some interesting vacations and wonder at your great fortune.
And if you have friends who plan a party for you when you hit your 30th work anniversary, you might get a VIP visit – including the newly named CEO, CIO, or Vanguard’s Global Chief Economist, Joe Davis, who also happens to be a great boss and a great person… AND get a personal note from our founder Jack Bogle. I was happy to share this celebration with many amazing people from all points along my career.
Did I forget to tell you what I picked out for my milestone gift? It was a kayak!
If you’re seeking an environment where you can make a difference and develop professionally, check out our career opportunities at www.vanguardjobs.com.
We are family: Vanguard Charlotte celebrates 20 years
After arriving in Charlotte almost five years ago, it didn’t take long to see that the office had something special. Our crew are genuinely friendly, offer diverse perspectives, and foster deep connections. We work hard but also know how to celebrate accomplishments and milestones, both for Vanguard and our clients. Everywhere you look, every day, the crew are investing in our clients, in each other, and in the community. These personal, almost family-like connections have been part of the tapestry of Charlotte since the very beginning and remain true today.
Since I haven’t been at the Charlotte office since the beginning, I decided to catch up with a few colleagues who were directly involved in standing up this Vanguard location.
Michelle W. was one of the first HR team members on the ground tasked with getting the site up and running. She handled a multitude of responsibilities including facilities, recruiting, crew benefits, and implementing crew services on par with our offerings in Malvern. It was the ultimate definition of the HR Generalist. With the goal of hiring 700 crew members that initial year, Michelle and another HR colleague recruited around the clock from their bank of tables and telephones on an otherwise empty floor in our building. It was an incredible challenge but also rewarding. Michelle shared she remembers the personal touch most and that it stays with her even today—being able to greet folks by name, know their families, celebrate successes together, and support each other through disappointments.
Chrisa F. also shared her early memories of Vanguard Charlotte with me. Our Charlotte office was a budding site, full of energy and excitement. Crew were eager to learn new things, and everyone was ready to lend a hand. After spending almost four weeks coaching new Retail Services crew, she was so impressed with Charlotte that she decided to permanently relocate in 1998.
Fast forward 20 years. We are now 1,600 crew occupying four buildings and more than 324,000 square feet of office space. So much has changed in twenty years, yet the Charlotte office remains a unique and special place. It feels every bit a family, but stronger. Happy 20th anniversary, Vanguard Charlotte!