Case | HBS Case Collection | June 2007 (Revised January 2008)

The Vanguard Group, Inc. in 2006 and Target Retirement Funds

by Luis M. Viceira

Abstract

The Vanguard Group is one of the largest asset managers in the U.S., with over $1 trillion in assets, ninety percent of which are mutual fund assets, and more than 12,000 employees at year-end 2006. Vanguard has built a strong reputation as the manager of reference for low-cost investing and high-quality customer service which always does what it thinks is best for its clients. Vanguard has recently launched a family of life-cycle funds called Target Retirement Funds. Life-cycle funds, which have proven popular both with investors in company-sponsored defined-contribution pension plans and with individual investors, are built on the idea of “age-based investing,” or the notion that investors should allocate more of their long-term savings to stocks when they are young and have longer retirement horizons, and decrease this allocation as they approach retirement. The management at Vanguard is examining the central role of these funds may play in some initiatives aimed at growing Vanguard's retail, defined contribution and client advisory services. The pending approval of the Pension Protection Act will make it possible for sponsors of defined-contribution plans to take a more active role in advising plan participants, and the assets in individual retirement accounts and defined-contribution pension plans are expected to continue their rapid growth moving forward. Should Vanguard promote these funds as the next step in Vanguard's quest to make investing as simple, low-cost, and effective as it can possibly be? At stake is Vanguard's brand and client trust, and the welfare of millions of Americans now responsible for providing for their own retirement.

Keywords: Asset Management; Investment Funds; Personal Finance; Brands and Branding; Retirement; Trust; Financial Services Industry; United States;

Citation:

Viceira, Luis M. "The Vanguard Group, Inc. in 2006 and Target Retirement Funds." Harvard Business School Case 207-129, June 2007. (Revised January 2008.)