Bill McNabb to Retire as Vanguard’s Chairman on January 1

A year after taking over as CEO of the Vanguard Group, Tim Buckley will become the firm’s fourth chairman of the board.

Vanguard announced its chairman, Bill McNabb, will step down at the end of the year. (Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)

Vanguard announced its chairman, Bill McNabb, will step down at the end of the year.

(Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)

Tim Buckley, CEO of $5.3 trillion Vanguard Group, will become chairman of the board at the start of the year, succeeding Bill McNabb. McNabb stepped down as CEO at the beginning of this year, but kept his chairman role.

Before becoming CEO, Buckley was the firm’s chief investment officer, head of the retail investor group, and chief information officer. He joined Vanguard in 1991 as assistant to Vanguard founder Jack Bogle and the firm’s first chairman of the board. John Brennan succeeded Bogle as CEO and served as chair from 1998 to 2009.

McNabb became CEO of Vanguard in 2008 during the worst of the financial crisis. Although the early months of his leadership were rocky, McNabb presided over Vanguard during a momentous time. During his ten-year tenure as CEO, Vanguard’s assets grew almost five-fold. It was a period when investors finally bought into Vanguard’s longtime philosophy of the benefits of low-cost funds for shareholders. The firm became synonymous with passive investing, which in turn became the bane of traditional asset management. Among other things, McNabb oversaw the build-out of Vanguard’s advice service and target-date funds, both of which were landmark efforts that changed the competitive landscape in these industry sectors.

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After being burned by the financial crisis, investors also flocked to Vanguard because of its ownership structure. Unlike publicly traded asset managers or those owned by insurance companies or banks, Vanguard has no outside owners. The company is owned by its funds, which in turn are owned by their shareholders.

McNabb is still planning his post-retirement life, but it will include the chairmanship of the board of the Philadelphia Zoo, as well as other corporate board posts, including insurance company UnitedHealth Group. McNabb, a former Latin teacher, is also exploring how to get involved in an educational initiative in Philadelphia.