What if you owned more than 45 percent of your market? The mutual fund company, The Vanguard Group, does just that. More than 45 percent of the money flowing into mutual funds today goes into a Vanguard managed fund.
You’d think they wouldn’t need to do much for their customers. In fact, since they specialize in index traded, set-it-and-forget-it type investment vehicles, you’d think they wouldn’t need to communicate with their members. In fact, the opposite is true. The Vanguard Group has one of the most vibrant customer tribes in the investment world, and it’s a large part of their success.
My friend and client Ben Glass of Great Legal Marketing passed along a January 2016 article from Kiplinger’s Personal Finance entitled, “The World According to Bogleheads.” The term “Boglehead” may not mean much to you, but I’ve been a Boglehead since 1991. Actually, we weren’t called Bogleheads then; instead we were known as “Vanguard Diehards.”
While I pursued my master’s degree in accountancy from Florida State University, I wrote a paper about index fund investing. Mind you, this was during the big recession of 1990-1992. Through my research, I discovered that fewer than 30 percent of the professionally managed mutual fund companies would beat the S&P 500 index. And a much smaller percentage could beat the index over a period of five or 10 years.
I figured if full-time professionals couldn’t consistently beat the S&P 500 index, why should I believe I could pick stocks any better working part time? I became a believer of index fund investing and have stuck with it ever since. Of the index funds, The Vanguard Group is consistently the least expensive, so I’ve been squirreling away my savings there ever since.
The founder of The Vanguard Group is 77-year-old Jack Bogle. While running Vanguard, Jack has been an avid promoter of index fund investing. He is an outspoken critic of high-fee mutual funds and “financial buccaneers offering a panoply of silly investment strategies that people may not understand.”
Jack Bogle has created thousands of fans. One of them started a membership site called Bogleheads.org. It’s grown to have an annual meeting with an appearance by Jack Bogle, a field trip to Vanguard headquarters, and featured speakers from the world of personal finance.
You may have different opinions with regard to investing. Heck, some of you publish investment information and newsletters that offer investment recommendations that directly conflict with what’s published on Bogleheads.org. However, Bogleheads.org is an excellent case study on how you can create a vibrant community around your company, no matter what information you offer.
Bogleheads.org delivers all five of the benefits members look for when they join. It gives members valuable information (ROI), a connection to a community of like-minded people, an opportunity to contribute by posting content, recognition for being helpful to other members, and an opportunity to be part of something greater than themselves. Plus, for Vanguard, it insulates their members against all the conflicting investment offers within the marketplace.
You can check-out the Kiplinger’s Personal Finance article here: www.RobertSkrob.com/Bogleheads. It’s definitely worth reading the article and studying the member forum. My favorite part of Bogleheads.org is the private wiki; it’s a terrific orientation tool for new member forums. Heck, I could write an entire article about the genius of just that portion of the site.