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When Vanguard founder Jack Bogle died last week at the age of 89, he left behind an enormous legacy of insight and advice that ordinary retail investors can take advantage of and learn from.
Bogle's low-cost, diversified index fund ushered in a sea change in the way Americans thought about saving for retirement, building a nest egg and avoiding risk while maximizing returns. If tracking an index performance as an investing strategy seems like a no-brainer today, things were very different prior to 1976, when Bogle launched his first groundbreaking retail index fund.
“When Vanguard started, it was a very risky kind of thing,” Bogle told Money in an interview.
It wasn't only Jack Bogle's investing strategy, but also the way he designed what would become the landmark Vanguard 500 Index fund that was radical at the time because there were accessible to retail investors as well as big money managers. Anyone could invest: Vanguard's index funds have always had a low threshold for entry that let middle-class Americans get in on the activity.
Bogle was a prolific writer and interview subject, and he's regularly name-checked by money management and personal finance experts as an inspiration. What are Jack Bogle's best books?
Money asked financial and market pros to share which of Bogle’s books they found to be the most valuable or influential over the course of their careers. Here's what they had to say.
Merlin Rothfeld, instructor and investment strategist at Online Trading Academy, says he first encountered Bogle on Mutual Funds in college.
“At the time, I felt like Bogle was pulling back the curtain in the Wizard of Oz-like world of investing,” Rothfield says. The advice might have been basic, but Rothfeld says it has informed his career ever since.
Among the lessons Rothfield learned from Bogle are: “Don’t shoot from the hip, do the research, analyze the data, look at price,” he says. And all of this advice gives you the kind of foundation you need to make the right investment decisions.
“My favorite book is Stay the Course,” says Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities.
This book, published just last year, was Bogle's final one. Cardillo says it’s an especially timely guide for people who are investing in the market now. “It gives investors the insights of investing, especially in turbulent times as we are experiencing now,” he says.
“Shortly after the 2008 financial crisis, I read Jack Bogle's Enough, and it made a profound impact on me both professionally and personally,” says Trent Porter, founder of Priority Financial Partners. “Unlike most books on investing, Enough goes beyond dollars and cents and dives into the values Jack has lived by to obtain his success.”
Porter calls this book, published in 2008, “incredibly insightful into the failings of Wall Street that led to the financial crisis," and says it remains just as relevant today.
The Little Book of Common Sense Investing: The Only Way to Guarantee Your Fair Share of Stock Market Returns
“Jack was an original industry thought leader,” says John O’Donnell, Director of Research at Online Trading Academy, who calls The Little Book of Common Sense Investing one of his favorite books.
"This revolutionary pioneering book educated many of us boomers new to the financial services industry,” O’Donnell says.
Bogle gave an entire generation the tools to set themselves up for a secure financial future, O’Donnell says, and this book goes a long way at helping non-professional investors reach that goal. “Jack inspired us to self-direct and manage our own capital… and enjoy the amazing benefits of compounding long-term growth and income tax deferral.”