Why I value Vanguard’s reputation and investment approach as an advisor
I started my career at Vanguard just a few months after graduating from Penn State. I didn’t know what to expect in the short or long-term, but I knew that I had a great opportunity before me. Vanguard, and our pioneer founder John Bogle, had and still have a stellar reputation as a place to invest and as a place to work. The feedback is consistent whenever I talk to people about where I work, and it started as soon as I got the job offer. I was hearing “That’s where I have my accounts!” and “I know someone who works there, and they love it!” It didn’t take long for me to realize that the success of the company and our reputation are well-deserved, as every focus is to do what’s right for our clients.
This didn’t change, of course, as my career progressed. With additional responsibility came a greater level of care and attention to detail. As a financial advisor now, I use a measured and practical investment approach to help my clients reach their goals. We focus on controlling risk, as well as keeping investment costs and taxation to a minimum. Controlling risk and tax efficiency is practiced by advisors anywhere—but where Vanguard aims to set the bar is at cost management. It has been at Vanguard’s core from the beginning, when the aforementioned John Bogle founded the company with the goal of treating investors fairly.
These Vanguard advantages are so powerful for me as an advisor. I can focus on getting to know my clients and pairing them with the right solution without any second-guessing. This is the ideal climate for a trusting relationship—one that will survive through good times and bad. It seems like everyone is bracing themselves for the next correction or bear market, investors and advisors alike. Only the trusted advisor will maintain their clients’ confidence through turmoil, and I look forward to the challenge knowing that we have a rock-solid foundation.
In the meantime, I’m doing what I love. I’m helping people. As financial professionals, we may not realize how stressful finances can be when you don’t have a plan. You could argue that we’re as important to someone as their primary care physician or their psychologist, and that gives me tremendous satisfaction. And to be able to do it at Vanguard—it doesn’t get any better than that.
Jon, a Senior Financial Advisor, moved from Michigan to Arizona to start his career at Vanguard. He wanted to do something different with his life and make a bigger difference—he answers “Why Vanguard?” in this blog post.
My dad sparked my investment passion; Vanguard fueled it
My father was a payroll clerk by trade, but his true passion was investing. When I was growing up in the 1980s, every weeknight at 6 o’clock my dad watched The Nightly Business Report on PBS on our only TV. Needless to say, this was before the internet and CNBC (I know, I’m dating myself), so it was really the only way you could find out what happened in the markets before you read it in the newspapers the next day.
I vividly recall how my dad used to hoot and holler whenever good news boosted one of the stocks he owned, even though he regularly invested through up and down markets, reinvested the dividends, and held his stocks for decades. His passion sparked my interest in pursuing an investment career, which began at another investment firm performing research and oversight of institutional money managers. While I was aware of Vanguard and even owned some Vanguard mutual funds, at the time I had the impression that Vanguard was “just” an index shop, and not a “real” investment firm.
Boy, was I wrong.
My introduction to Vanguard
About nine years ago, I began to pursue an opening in Vanguard’s Oversight and Manager Search team. The more research I did on Vanguard, the more I realized that it was truly a world-class investment firm – active and passive, equity and fixed income. The crew I met with were smart yet humble, and the investment research was insightful and balanced.
I joined Vanguard in 2009 as a Senior Investment Analyst in the Portfolio Review Department, on the team that provides oversight of Vanguard’s investment managers and funds. I was able to learn about a lot of different investment approaches from not only Vanguard internal managers, but from the roughly 30 other world-class investment firms Vanguard partners with like Wellington, PRIMECAP, and Ballie Gifford.
Senior Investment Analysts 2013
Vanguard around the globe
One day in 2013, I was on my way to the Galley (the on-campus cafeteria) when my department head pulled me into his office and said, “We’re thinking of sending you to Hong Kong.” My reply was, “I was thinking of getting a sandwich.”
Ten months after that conversation, my wife, three kids, and I moved to Hong Kong where I was tasked with building Vanguard’s investment product function for Asia—designing and launching Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) and mutual funds, and educating clients about them. It’s where I learned about the ETF ecosystem and retirement systems for Asian countries.
Asia Product and Investment Team 2017
After three years in Asia, I returned to our headquarters in 2017 to lead Vanguard’s Defined Contribution Advisory Services (DCAS) team. Ever wonder how a company decides which funds to offer its employees in their 401(k) plan? And how they oversee those funds? Well, our team of investment professionals delivers investment perspectives, evaluations, and custom portfolios to help those companies and their consultants do just that.
DCAS- ugly sweaters and curling!
A common thread
My three roles at Vanguard are very different and none of them are in the Investment Management division, but the one common thread was each requires a strong degree of investment acumen for success. Fortunately, Vanguard provides a ton of resources and support for crew to develop and deepen their investment acumen, from paid support for the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA®) and Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®) programs, free mobile access to the Wall Street Journal and other industry news sources, numerous internal investment training sessions, and more. As long as you bring a “growth mindset” and an intellectual curiosity, there’s no limit to your development.
I’ve seen Vanguard’s investment research, analysis, and portfolio management become more sophisticated and global over the years. But our investment philosophy has remained steadfast since our founding more than 40 years ago: set an investment goal, diversify your portfolio, keep your costs low, and stick to a plan —strikingly similar to my dad’s approach.
If you’re seeking an environment where you can make a difference and develop professionally, check out our career our opportunities at www.vanguardjobs.com.
“Do the Right Thing.” It’s a family motto. When I was growing up, my father used many opportunities to instill those words in my being. I have a vivid memory from when I was about eight years old of my mother running across traffic on route 80 back to the tollbooth because the worker gave her a nickel too much change. ‘Honesty at all costs’ was all she knew. At a young age, integrity and reputation were everything, and my moral compass was set. So as I began my professional career and was looking for a long-term ‘home’, not only did I find that Vanguard’s culture and values aligned with my own, but “Do the Right Thing” is actually a message that can be found and heard here often.
For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a Financial Planner. Many kids want to be doctors, teachers, athletes, or singers. Thanks to my grandparents, I was exposed to the world of finance at a very young age, and I wanted to couple that with my innate desire to help people. The cherry on top: The idea of being a Financial Planner seemed fun. And, if I was going to spend a large portion of my life doing something, I better enjoy it, and it certainly can’t feel like ‘work’.
When you look into the core of your being, what is your calling? What kind of impact do you want to make? What are you going to have the most fun doing? Well, if you made it this far in my blog entry, chances are you’re interested in a Financial Planning career at Vanguard. And as you’ll read below, if your desires align with mine, this might be the place for you too.
Stop Selling, Start Helping
At Vanguard, prospective clients I speak with are connected with me either because they asked to speak to an Advisor, or a potential need was identified in a conversation they had with a representative. That means there’s no cold-calling involved. So, from the beginning of the discussion, the goal is to determine whether the client’s needs align with our managed advice offer. Some call this soft consultative sales, I call it helpingsomeone who needs help.
Advice I Truly Believe In
Since I don’t have a crystal ball that tells me the future, I’m not trying to time or beat the market. Rather, my focus is on developing an investment portfolio that is appropriate for the client based on their goals, risk tolerance, time horizon, and other variables through a consistent advice methodology. This allows me to be fully confident in the advice I’m providing, knowing I have only the client’s best interests in mind.
Do You Love People?
I absolutely love people, which is a primary reason why my wife and I have five kids! Vanguard’s consistent advice methodology allows me to spend time getting to know my clients better, understand what is important to them, and look for ways to bring additional value over the course of the relationship. This is where I have the most fun. I yearn to know what they’re passionate about and what worries them. I want to celebrate the fun life events with them, and mourn with them during the difficult ones. I want to think of my clients over the weekend because something I saw or heard reminded me of who they are. Becoming part of their lives is the goal, and for no motive other than I simply care about people.
So, how about you? What are you looking for?
If you’re like me (you want to do the right thing and have fun doing it) then this place called Vanguard just might be for you.
If you’re seeking an environment where you can make a difference and develop professionally, learn about our careers in advice at www.vanguardjobs.com.
After graduating from college in May, I began my career with Vanguard as part of the Financial Advisor Development Program (FADP). FADP is designed to develop the skills, knowledge, and attributes of recent college graduates to prepare them for a career within Personal Advisor Services (PAS) at Vanguard. As part of the program, FADP participants sit for the CFP® Certification Exam within the first few months. Overall, I felt confident, but a little uneasy about sitting for the exam so soon. My schooling had prepared me well, but I felt like I needed to brush up on some of the material.
Studying for the exam
As I was finishing up my college career, I often wondered how I was going to find time to study for the exam while working full time, making time for my wife and two kids, and volunteering outside of work. When I interviewed for different firms, I always made sure to ask what they could do to help me pass the CFP® Exam. Almost every response was the same – I would have to find the time outside of work to self-study. I would also have to purchase study materials and pay for the exam fees on my own. Occasionally, a firm would offer to reimburse the exam fee if I passed.
Vanguard’s FADP offers a completely different experience.
Vanguard provides FADP participants six weeks of fully paid time to prepare for the exam – my only job was to study. Six weeks, at about 40 hours per week, gave me around 240 paid hours of study. This was a huge opportunity and a key factor to passing the exam. Not to mention, my wife and kids were happy that I could still be around for them in the evenings. Having uninterrupted study time for six full weeks while maintaining a personal life was critical to my passing score. I was so relieved to find something that fit me and my personal situation, I finally felt like a firm recognized what was important to me.
Supporting my preparation
Vanguard’s help didn’t stop at just allowing me the time to study — they also gave me all of the books and related materials needed to pass the test. I had access to books on all the test topics, online access to quiz banks, practice tests, and even videos. Each topic was covered thoroughly, along with test tips, which I couldn’t have known by merely reading a textbook. To top it off, Vanguard also took care of all my exam fees. This type of exam preparation course would have been a huge cost and financial burden had I purchased it on my own, especially as a recent college graduate. You could imagine what a relief it was to know that I could focus fully on passing the exam.
Probably one of the most beneficial things when prepping for the exam, was the full access to experienced and knowledgeable instructors and crewmembers from Vanguard. If I had issues finding an answer to a question or was having difficulty with a concept, they were always there to help. I also had access to those who had already passed the exam, such as my immediate supervisor, a CFP® certificant who passed the exam last year. He provided much encouragement and support throughout my exam prep. Additionally, we were able to pick the brains of current financial advisors for Vanguard, who acted as mentors and tutors throughout the program. I was able to meet with them at designated times throughout the week and ask questions about test topics.
After having gone through the exam prep process and passing the exam, I feel FADP provided me with every resource available to set me up for success. Without Vanguard’s help, the outcome could have been very different. By having these materials, resources, and time to study, I felt confident going into the exam on test day. Vanguard understands that if I succeed, the company succeeds.
To learn more about the Financial Advisor Development Program, check out this blog from program participant Sara Beth and watch the video below. And if you’re ready for a more rewarding, engaging, meaningful career, check out our opportunities at www.vanguardjobs.com.
An overview of the Financial Advisor Development Program
Like many college students, my senior year involved tackling my job search. As a finance major with a concentration in financial planning, it was important that I found a job in this industry, while also connecting with a company that would support my desire to pursue the CFP® certification. I wanted to work face-to-face with clients, as helping people was one of the main reasons that I chose a career in financial planning. Working for a company that valued their employees and cared about career progression was another necessity.
In the midst of my job search, a Vanguard representative attended one of Virginia Tech’s Financial Planning Association (FPA) Student Chapter Meetings and presented on a new program they were offering for financial planning students – the Financial Advisor Development Program (FADP). I learned that FADP was a two-year accelerated rotational program created for recent college graduates interested in pursuing a career as a financial advisor. I quickly found that FADP sounded like the job for me.
The first three months of the program are dedicated to achieving the proper licensing requirements, FINRA Series 7 and Series 66 licenses, with substantial support and resources provided by Vanguard. Not only did Vanguard provide support and resources to help me prepare for the CFP® exam, but they even paid me for the six weeks of studying leading up to the exam. I would receive the CFP® certification in two years (as opposed to the industry standard of three years) through the Apprenticeship Pathway experience exception.
This program gives participants a well-rounded education, mentor relationship and hands-on experiences before they start their career as a financial advisor. In addition, the overall environment I found at Vanguard assured me I had found everything I wanted in a company. Every person I met wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. When I got the call that I had been chosen for the program, I excitedly accepted.
Fast forward a few months to June, when I began my career with Vanguard as an FADP participant. I was glad for the opportunity to be around people who were going through the same experience of studying for the CFP® exam. I grew close to my coworkers very quickly and found that having their support was a key component to staying motivated. Together, we all benefitted from the support and guidance of both the FADP leadership team and our assigned mentors – experienced CFP® professionals. Starting a new position in a brand new program can be pretty overwhelming, and having so many friendly faces on your side is very beneficial.
With the testing phase behind me, I am currently in the program’s first rotation within Vanguard’s Business Development Group. In this role, we communicate with clients in hopes of bringing them to Vanguard. We will uncover clients’ needs and educate them on what Vanguard has to offer. During the second rotation, I’ll help Vanguard’s high net worth clients in Flagship Services, serving existing clients who work with a financial advisor at Vanguard and focusing on deepening my relationship management skills. The third and final rotation will take place in Vanguard’s Advice department, Personal Advisor Services (PAS), creating opportunities to learn Vanguard’s Advice methodology and demonstrating how our advice offer can help clients looking for guidance with their portfolio. I am excited to begin speaking with clients and helping them to get on the right track with their financial success. I am confident the knowledge and experiences I’ll gain from FADP will set me up for success as a financial advisor and I’m looking forward to all that is to come!
-Sara Beth W.
If you’re seeking an environment where you can make a difference and develop professionally, check out our career opportunities at www.vanguardjobs.com.