In his final days, though, Bogle still wasn’t convinced, addressing the issue in his final book, “Stay the Course, The Story of Vanguard and the Index Revolution” (Wiley, 2018).
He maintained that ETFs were mainly the purview of speculators with most of the “rapid trading” in ETFs “done by financial institutions that use them to hedge or equitize cash reserves.”
“The arithmetic suggests that only about one-sixth of ETF assets are held by investors with a focus largely on the long-term,” Bogle wrote, according to an advance copy provided to CNBC.
Still, he concluded the ETF chapter of his book by saying he supports the funds as long as they are broad-based and not used for speculation.
Despite his misgivings about the current state of the industry, Bogle remained a believer in index investing, and will be remembered as one of the true market pioneers.
“If a statue is ever erected to honor the person who has done the most for American investors, the hands-down choice should be Jack Bogle,” Warren Buffett once said.
Bogle concluded his book with a valedictory that went beyond his beliefs in investing and stretched to his philosophy on life itself.
“I’ve usually used the phrase ‘stay the course’ as one of the great rules of investment success,” he wrote. “But as I complete this memoir, ‘stay the course’ is also a splendid rule for fighting our way through the inevitable ups and downs of the short spans of our existence on this Earth, and for enjoying a productive and honorable life well lived.