Vanguard has announced that the company has created a new operation entirely focused on developing services to meet the evolving needs of its individual, financial advisor, and institutional clients. The Vanguard Innovation Center, expected to open in the second quarter of 2017, will be located in Philadelphia at the nexus of the city’s robust academic and business communities, and in proximity to the region’s transportation hubs and the firm’s global headquarters in Malvern, PA.
“Innovation is woven into Vanguard’s DNA, from our unique mutual ownership structure to bringing the first index mutual fund to market for individual investors,” said Vanguard CEO Bill McNabb. “The Innovation Center is a tangible commitment that we’ll continue our strong track record of building capabilities that we believe give our clients the best chance for investment success, and we’re pleased to take this significant next step in Philadelphia.”
Today, more than 90% of Vanguard’s interactions with its 20 million clients occur digitally, enabling the company to increase productivity, lower costs, and improve the investor experience. A recent example is Vanguard Personal Advisor Services, a hybrid advice offering that combines the virtual engagement, customized financial plan, and sophisticated computer modeling of robo-advisors with the judgment and behavioral coaching of a human financial advisor. Introduced in May 2015, Personal Advisor Services now manages $47 billion in assets.
Innovation Center to capitalize on tech revolution
While still in the early stages of development, Vanguard envisions the Innovation Center as an internal, entrepreneurial team of initially 20 crew members dedicated to galvanizing existing innovation efforts and serving as a catalyst for new ideas and solutions. The Center’s team will also evaluate mutually beneficial partnership opportunities with other businesses and universities as a way to share experience and expertise, from research to process to technology, across industries.
“We are in the midst of a great technological revolution – from self-driving cars and package-delivering drones to smart phones and 3D-printers – that is changing the way we live, work, and, in Vanguard’s realm, invest. With a centralized, and centrally located, Innovation Center, Vanguard seeks to harness emerging technologies and new processes to create value for our clients by improving their investing experience and their investment outcomes,” said Mr. McNabb.
Vanguard returns to Philadelphia roots
Vanguard traces its roots to Wellington Fund, one of the mutual fund industry’s first balanced funds, which was founded by Philadelphia accountant Walter L. Morgan in 1929. Today, Vanguard Wellington Fund is the largest balanced fund with more than $92 billion in asset1. Vanguard also operated a walk-in investment center in Center City from 1984 to 1999 to serve individual investors making deposits to their mutual fund accounts or contributing to their IRAs.