Who invented the index fund? A brief (true) history of index funds

Pop quiz! If I asked you, “Who invented the index fund?” what would your answer be? I’ll bet most of you don’t know and don’t care. But those who do care would probably answer, “John Bogle, founder of The Vanguard Group.” And that’s what I would have answered too until a few weeks ago.

But, it turns out, this answer is false.

Yes, Bogle founded the first publicly-available index fund. And yes, Bogle is responsible for popularizing and promoting index funds as the “common sense” investment answer for the average person. For this, he deserves much praise.

But Bogle did not invent index funds. In fact, for a long time he was opposed to the very idea of them!

John Bogle did not invent index funds

Recently, while writing the investing lesson for my upcoming Audible course about the basics of financial independence, I found myself deep down a rabbit hole. What started as a simple Google search to verify that Bogle was indeed the creator of index funds led me to a “secret history” of which I’d been completely unaware.

In this article, I’ve done my best to assemble the bits and pieces I discovered while tracking down the origins of index funds. I’m sure I’ve made some mistakes here. (If you spot an error or know of additional info that should be included, drop me a line.)

Here then, is a brief history of index funds.

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Personal Capital Review for 2021

Personal Capital is a client-centric robo-advisor offering investment and wealth management services. The company distinguishes itself from the competition by combining automation with personal service. With over 2.7 million users, Personal Capital currently holds $16…

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The 8 Best Vanguard Funds for Long-Term Investments

If you’re busy and want to invest your money in the long term, you will love the best vanguard funds. They are cheaper. They are high quality funds, well diversified, and professionally managed. Thus, vanguard funds are a favorite for long-term investments and for retirement. Vanguard mutual funds, like any mutual funds, are money invested …

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