NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- John C. Bogle, founder of the Vanguard Group and proclaimed "father of index mutual funds," is widely recognized as one of the giants of the financial world.
Bogle set the stage for today's mutual fund and ETF world, all while keeping his main focus on what is best for the individual investor.
Nobody can accuse Bogle of thinking like everyone else on Wall Street. Born in 1929 in New York, Bogle is one of two twin boys from a financially comfortable family. However, all that changed with the crash of 1929. His family lost its money, and he and his two brothers were forced to get jobs to support the household. The early respect for money he gained from this experience is one quality that has never left him.
After attending a private school in New Jersey, Bogle went on to Princeton University where he graduated magna cum laude in 1951 with a degree in economics. His senior thesis would gain the attention of fellow Princeton alumni, Walter L. Morgan, the founder of the Wellington Fund. Bogle was hired by Morgan after graduation.
Bogle would eventually rise to the title of executive vice president of Wellington Management. While in this position Bogle initiated the company's 1966 merger with Thorndike, Doran, Paine & Lewis, Inc. from Boston. In 1967, the same year that Bogle became the CEO of the merged firm, he suffered a heart attack that required a pacemaker be implanted.
With the new merger, Wellington Management drifted away from its traditionally conservative style, much to the dislike of original members of the firm. In 1969, amid internal turmoil and a stock market tumble, the company's assets slumped from $2.7 billion to $2.2 billion. In 1970, Walter Morgan retired and Bogle was on the brink of resignation. In 1974, a board of directors fired Bogle and planted the early seeds for his future success.
In a phoenix-like rebirth, Bogle managed to bounce back with The Vanguard Group. With this new endeavor, Bogle got back to basics. Besides regaining focus on what is best for the individual investor, he returned to his Princeton thesis, which was on the topic of mutual funds.
At that time, the idea of a mutual fund was beyond the realm of the private investor. Bogle, however, felt differently. While he has never claimed index funds as being his own concept, there is little question that Vanguard put the instruments that were once solely in the domain of business pension funds into the hands of the private investors.