by Larry Doyle, Sense on Cents
Throughout the annals of Wall Street history, there have been some true giants. While many of these larger than life individuals have occupied the rarefied air that comes with being a legend, few have simultaneously kept their feet firmly on the ground to help the common man and the individual investor.
Then there is John Bogle.
I had the great good fortune of attending a small lunch reception in Bogle’s honor yesterday. I will not soon forget it.
Bogle has distinguished himself consistently for promoting the virtues of passive investing via index funds, while also promoting the virtues of a fiduciary standard for Wall Street. Self-deprecating in nature, the trillions of dollars currently under management at Vanguard, the firm he founded back in 1975, are not how he measures or defines success.
Bogle is very simply a man of principle and it is clear that he finds much of what transpires on Wall Street quite troubling. Bogle’s core principle is prioritizing client interests first, last, and always. How refreshing to hear the basic decency of that premise shared and embraced by Wall Street’s single greatest living legend. This principle is embodied in what is known as the fiduciary standard.
Bogle wasn’t the only individual to embrace that standard yesterday, but the host of the lunch – Knut Rostad, President of The Institute for the Fiduciary Standard – spoke eloquently on the need to elevate the fiduciary bar across Wall Street. Make no mistake, the industry views a fiduciary standard as too high a bar that would negatively impact their bottom line. What are the implicit duties within the fiduciary standard? As put forth by the institute, these duties are defined as follows:
Serve the client’s best interest Act in utmost good faith Act prudently – with the care, skill and judgment of a professional Avoid conflicts of interest Disclose all material facts Control investment expenses
I would maintain that we could dispense with much of the noise embedded within the supposed reforms of the Fraud-Dank Financial Regulatory Reform legislation if the industry were simply compelled to embrace the fiduciary standard and regulators made sure to uphold it.
I am not holding my breath that the industry will ever try to scale that bar held mere inches off the ground. That said, what did the legend at yesterday’s lunch offer as sustenance for all of us who care about individual investors, true free market capitalism, healthy markets, and an opportunity to get ahead for future generations?
Bogle sees an impending revolution rolling across our markets led by individual investors who have had enough of being left unprotected.
Upon hearing Bogle use the term revolution, I got a huge adrenaline rush.
I welcome the fight.
Please also make a point of following and promoting the efforts of The Institute for the Fiduciary Standard. They are working for all of us. I thank them.
Please pre-order a copy of my book, In Bed with Wall Street: The Conspiracy Crippling Our Global Economy, that will be published by Palgrave Macmillan on January 7, 2014.
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I have no business interest with any entity referenced in this commentary. The opinions expressed are my own. I am a proponent of real transparency within our markets so that investor confidence and investor protection can be achieved.
Editor’s Note: Don’t fail to enter a free drawing for Larry’s new book hitting book store shelves on Tuesday (07 January 2013). See for details: Four Days Left Before Book Drawing Entries Close.