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Investing Specialists

Has Brennan Been Good for Vanguard?

A look back at the tenure of Vanguard's soon-to-be former CEO.


A version of this article previously appeared in the Vanguard Fund Family Report.

Earlier this year Vanguard chairman and CEO, John J. Brennan, relinquished his president title and said he would  give up the CEO job by year-end. Let's assess his tenure and look at what his successor, F. William McNabb III, might have planned.

Has Brennan, who will remain chairman of the firm and its fund boards, been good for Vanguard? He presided over a period of impressive growth. When he became Vanguard's CEO in 1996, the firm had $200 billion in assets in 90 funds and 4,000 employees. Vanguard now has $1.3 trillion in assets in 150 funds and employs 12,000. Although the firm is still known as the house that indexing built, Vanguard also has expanded its capabilities on Brennan's watch. Besides rolling out exchange-traded funds (albeit much later than rivals such as Barclays), Vanguard also offers online brokerage, a competitive lineup of target-date retirement funds, 529 college-savings plans, and more advice options. It began courting financial advisors, grew its institutional business, expanded internationally, and actively managed more money in-house.

Dan Culloton does not own (actual or beneficial) shares in any of the securities mentioned above. Find out about Morningstar’s editorial policies.