The Wise Cracks Blog by Dan Otter



Meeting John Bogle

I first John Bogle sometime in the mid to late 1990s. I can’t recall if it was in my classroom or in my backyard. What? John Bogle came to your house and perhaps even your backyard you ask? He did indeed. One time he was joined by the founders of Motley Fool. Double what??

Oh, I should probably add a little more context. I first met John Bogle via Saturday morning financial radio shows I devoured during this time. This was the age before go-anywhere, listen-anywhere podcasts. It was appointment radio. If a show aired at 10AM, I had to be at the radio at that time. I timed Saturday morning trips to my classroom, and backyard work around these programs.

I don’t remember a lot of the guests I heard during this time, but I sure do remember John Bogle. He made investing simple and logical: fees matter, don’t try and beat the market, just meet the market. His intelligence, sincerity, and wit resonated with me. His investing philosophy is a guiding principle of 403bwise.

In 2002, fiduciary advisor Scott Dauenahuer, CFP® and I teamed up to write the 403(b)Wise Guide. On a whim I mailed Mr. Bogle a copy of our book which mentioned him as an influence. One month later, much to my amazement, I received the following:

Bogle Note (2002)

Whaaaat? He even wrote: “Your advice is right on.”

In 2005, I sent Mr. Bogle a copy of my newest book, Teach and Retire Rich. About a month later I received another hand written note. 

Bogle Note (2005)

Whaaaat? Unbelievable. 

Finally, in 2010 I got a chance to actually meet Mr. Bogle. I had been invited to the Vanguard campus, where Mr. Bogle kept an office, to discuss teaching financial literacy. On the morning of my visit I was handed an itinerary. It included the following item: Meet John Bogle. I am not going to lie. I suddenly got a little nervous. But then I thought: it’s probably just a quick hi and see you later. That’s not at all what happened. When I arrived at his office, he invited me to have a seat on his office couch and for the next 15 minutes we discussed 403(b) issues.

It was a bit of blur. I remember he was engaged, surprised by the fees charged in most 403(b) plans, and kind beyond belief. He handed me a copy of his newest book Don’t Count On It! Reflections on Investment Illusions, Capitalism, “Mutual” Funds, Indexing, Entrepreneurship, Idealism, and Heroes. Even better, he inscribed it with the following:

Bogle Book Inscription (2010)

403bwise and the 403(b) reform movement will continue to heed these words.