A Look at Vanguard Group, the Company Behind the Vanguard Funds
By: Robert F. Abbott, freelance writer and author
The Vanguard funds company is among the top three in the United States (and operates subsidiaries in other countries, as well).
While best known for its low-priced index funds, the company also has created and manages active funds (index funds are generally passive) and ETFs. It also manages funds for institutional investors (such as big pension plans and smaller mutual fund companies).
From a consumer’s perspective, Vanguard brings something different to the table. You’ll find those differences outlined well in the first two minutes of this YouTube video from MoneyHop (stop the video at the two-minute mark unless you want to learn about funds from Merrill Lynch):
One of the other big, or perhaps biggest, reason involves the ownership structure of the group. That structure makes it something like a credit union. The funds own the company, and clients own the funds. So, as they say at Vanguard, the firm does not have to make profits for the shareholders (since shareholders do not exist for this company). A bit complex, and interesting, but really of little consequence for most fund investors.
Keeping costs low has become a mantra for the people who run Vanguard, and that has generally worked out well for people who have invested in Vanguard mutual funds.
Note that I wrote, generally, in the preceding paragraph. Costs—and returns—constitute just one element of successful investing. As I wrote in Top Mutual Funds: As Defined by You, several issues need attention as you go through the process of finding and buying them.
Nevertheless, Vanguard funds do deserve attention if they come up on your short list. The company has delivered good returns on many of its funds over the past 40 years and if nothing else, will keep your investing costs down in the future.