Vanguard Faces Competition and Criticism — Where Does It Go From Here?

This storied investment pioneer is challenged by zero-cost competition and customer service complaints.

A hand holds a smartphone with the Vanguard app loading
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Everywhere you look at Vanguard headquarters, the nation’s second-largest money manager, you see memorials to underdogs who won improbable victories. Vanguard’s verdant office park sits close to the historic Valley Forge site in Pennsylvania, where George Washington turned a disparate group of colonists into a force that would win American independence from the better-equipped British army. 

Many of the office buildings are named after daring British ships that defeated larger enemies in the 18th and 19th centuries. Front and center is a statue of Vanguard’s founder, the late Jack Bogle, who is credited with leading a financial revolution by popularizing index funds and driving down investing costs to effectively transfer billions of dollars from Wall Street to Main Street investors. 

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Kim Clark
Senior Associate Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

Kim Clark is a veteran financial journalist who has worked at Fortune, U.S News & World Report and Money magazines. She was part of a team that won a Gerald Loeb award for coverage of elder finances, and she won the Education Writers Association's top magazine investigative prize for exposing insurance agents who used false claims about college financial aid to sell policies. As a Kiplinger Fellow at Ohio State University, she studied delivery of digital news and information. Most recently, she worked as a deputy director of the Education Writers Association, leading the training of higher education journalists around the country. She is also a prize-winning gardener, and in her spare time, picks up litter.