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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Who Will Take Over the Low-Cost Leviathan?

Reported by Neil Anderson, Managing Editor

The Low-Cost Leviathan's chief is preparing to retire after 33 years, and a top lieutenant is on the rise. Yet no successor to has yet been named to lead the crew of the 49-year-old fleet that Bogle built, which now includes about 20,000 employees serving more than 50 million investors with 424 funds and $9 trillion in AUM (as of December 31, 2023.)

Mortimer J. "Tim" Buckley
Exiting Chairman, CEO
This afternoon, Mark Loughridge, lead independent director on the board of Vanguard [profile], confirmed that chairman and CEO Tim Buckley (age 55) will retire from both roles by the end of 2024. Loughridge also confirms that the board is searching for a new CEO and that they've also promoted Greg Davis (age 53) to president of the Valley Forge, Pennsylvania-based fund firm. (Davis, a 24-year Vanguard veteran, will remain chief investment officer, too.)

Gregory "Greg" Davis
President, Chief Investment Officer
The Vanguard team specifically confirms that board's "comprehensive process to select a new CEO" involves considering "both internal and external candidates." Bringing in an outside executive as CEO would be a first for the giant, mutually owned asset manager: all of Vanguard's CEOs so far, including Buckley, have been promoted company insiders, not new hires.

Meanwhile, Vanguard's press release on the change makes no mention of who will succeed Buckley in his other role: chaiman.

"The Board has begun a thorough and diligent process to select a new CEO," Emily Farrell, a Vanguard spokesperson, tells MFWire. "We will provide an update on the Chairman role in due course."

"Our team is just getting started," Buckley states. "I have been passionate about developing the next generation of leaders, and I look forward to those leaders elevating Vanguard to new heights."

"It has been an absolute privilege to lead Vanguard and help advance the company's mission of giving clients the best chance for investment success," Buckley adds. "Today, Vanguard is poised to seize the opportunities of the future while continuing to deliver for our investor-owners."

Loughridge thanks Buckley for the latter's "unwavering commitment and understanding, dedicated service to Vanguard and its investor-owners and crew for more than 33 years."

"Under his leadership, Vanguard went through a period of unprecedented innovation, growth, and transformation, building high-value-added seervices and businesses and expanding our advice offers," Loughridge states. "We are extremely grateful for Tim's many contributions and look forward to continuing to work with him throughout the upcoming CEO selection and transition process."

As for Davis, his expanded role means that he will oversee "all aspects of the firm's investment management, retirement business, and services for financial advisor clients, overseeing the majority of Vanguard's fund and ETF distribution." Buckley lauds the new Vanguard president for "an outstanding record of delivering for ... clients — through fund performance, by championing innovation across our product line-up, and via industry-leading thought leadership."

"I am confident he will effectively leverage his deep investment expertise and partner with our senior team to help accelerate our business and uphold Vanguard's passionate focus on our investors," Buckley states. "He is a well-respected leader in our industry who is frequently sought out by policy makers and who advocates for regulatory changes to benefit everyday investors."

Davis highlights the importance of "understanding client needs."

"I am excited to serve Vanguard in this expanded role, working to ensure that our investment teams are even more proximate to the client voice and that we enhance our efforts within the industry and with policymakers to advance investor interests," Davis states.

Davis joined Vanguard back in 1999, and since then he has risen to oversee bond indexing, then Asia Pacific investments, then global fixed income, before taking over as chief investment officer in 2017. Earlier, he worked with Merrill Lynch, Citi, and State Farm. He is an alumnus of the Wharton School and of Penn State Univesity.

Buckley joined Vanguard in 1991 as research assistant to none other than company founder Jack Bogle himself. He later served as chief information officer and head of the retail investor group before taking over as chief investment officer in 2012, then as CEO in 2018 and as chairman in 2019. He is an alumnus twice over of Harvard University. 

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