Don't Count on It! by John C. Bogle
  • Title: Don't Count on It!
  • Subtitle: Reflections on Investment Illusions, Capitalism, Mutual Funds, Indexing, Entrepreneurship, Idealism, and Heroes
  • Author(s): John C. Bogle
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
  • Year: 2010-11-02
  • ISBN-10: 047064396X
  • ISBN-13: 9780470643969


Don’t Count on It!” by John C. Bogle is a thought-provoking and insightful book that challenges many commonly accepted beliefs about investing and the financial industry. Bogle, the founder of The Vanguard Group and a renowned advocate for passive investing, provides a comprehensive overview of his career and experiences in the investment world. He emphasizes the importance of low-cost index funds and warns against the excessive fees and complexity that come with active management.

Through a series of essays, Bogle delves into a wide range of topics, including the role of financial speculation, the impact of advertising on investor behavior, and the flaws in executive compensation. He explores the dangers of market speculation and enforces the significance of a long-term investment approach. With his strong convictions and backed by extensive research, Bogle argues for a return to the fundamentals of investment, urging investors to focus on simplicity, low costs, and a disciplined approach. “Don’t Count on It!” is a must-read for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the investment world and a departure from conventional wisdom.

Book Review

In his thought-provoking book, “Don’t Count on It!,” John C. Bogle challenges the widely accepted practices and beliefs within the financial industry. As the founder of The Vanguard Group and a respected authority in the investment world, Bogle shares his decades of experience to shed light on the flaws, dangers, and misconceptions that plague the investment world. With persuasive arguments and concrete examples, Bogle advocates for a return to simplicity, low-cost investing, and the virtues of long-term investing strategies.

Bogle debunks the myth of active management by providing compelling evidence that consistently outperforming the market is a rare feat. He demonstrates how the fees associated with active management often erode returns and hinder the growth of investors’ portfolios. He emphasizes the value of low-cost index funds, citing studies that show their ability to outperform actively managed funds over extended periods.

One of the most impactful chapters in the book is titled “Fiduciary Society: If Not Now, When?” Bogle highlights the importance of placing the interests of the client above all else, a concept that has unfortunately been compromised by conflicts of interest within the financial industry. He dissects the complex landscape of fees, illustrating how hidden costs can eat away at investors’ returns. Bogle stresses the need for transparency, accountability, and a true fiduciary duty from financial professionals.

Throughout the book, Bogle confronts the dangers of market speculation and short-term thinking. He uses the 2008 financial crisis as an example of the devastating consequences that can arise from excessive risk-taking. Bogle calls for a shift towards a long-term investment approach, where investors focus on building diversified portfolios and weathering market ups and downs without succumbing to emotional decision-making.

An underlying theme in “Don’t Count on It!” is Bogle’s disdain for the corporate culture that prioritizes executive compensation over shareholder returns. He highlights the misalignment of interests between executives and shareholders, exemplifying how excessive pay packages can incentivize short-term decision-making that harms long-term investors. He questions the role of capitalism when it becomes overpowered by greed and urges for a renewed focus on sustainable and responsible investing practices.

Bogle’s writing is clear, concise, and accessible to both seasoned investors and individuals new to the world of finance. His use of real-life examples, data, and historical events strengthens his arguments and makes the complex concepts easier to grasp. Moreover, his unyielding commitment to the principles of simplicity, low costs, and long-term investing creates a cohesive narrative that resonates with readers.

In conclusion, “Don’t Count on It!” is a powerful call to action, demanding a paradigm shift in how we approach investing. John C. Bogle’s critical analysis of the financial industry and his unwavering dedication to the principles of low-cost, passive investing make this book a must-read for anyone seeking to navigate the complex world of finance with clarity and integrity. This book is not only a valuable resource for individual investors, but also an influential guide for financial professionals, inspiring them to prioritize the well-being of their clients above their own gains.

Word Count: 506

Key Ideas

Don’t Count on It!: Reflections on Investment Illusions, Capitalism, ‘Mutual’ Funds, Indexing, Entrepreneurship, Idealism, and Heroes” by John C. Bogle is a collection of essays and speeches by the founder of The Vanguard Group. In this book, Bogle shares his insights on investing, the financial industry, and the principles of responsible capitalism. Here are the key ideas and themes from the book:

  1. Indexing and Passive Investing Bogle is a strong advocate for index investing, which involves tracking a broad market index, like the S&P 500, rather than actively managing a portfolio. He argues that passive investing offers a low-cost, low-risk, and highly effective way for individual investors to achieve their financial goals.

  2. Cost Matters One of Bogle’s central tenets is the importance of minimizing investment costs. He emphasizes that every dollar paid in fees and expenses is a dollar less in returns for investors. His philosophy led to the creation of Vanguard, which is known for its low-cost index funds.

  3. Long-Term Perspective Bogle encourages investors to adopt a long-term perspective and to resist the temptation to engage in short-term speculation. He argues that successful investing requires discipline and a commitment to staying the course through market ups and downs.

  4. Mutual Fund Industry Bogle criticizes certain practices within the mutual fund industry, particularly high fees, excessive turnover, and the pursuit of short-term gains. He advocates for greater transparency and accountability in the industry.

  5. The Fiduciary Standard Bogle is a proponent of the fiduciary standard, which requires financial professionals to act in the best interests of their clients. He believes that all financial advisors should be held to this high standard of care.

  6. Corporate Governance Bogle discusses the need for improved corporate governance, including more independent boards of directors and greater shareholder influence. He believes that corporate leaders should prioritize the interests of shareholders.

  7. Stewardship and Responsibility Bogle emphasizes that leaders in the financial industry have a responsibility to act as stewards of their clients’ assets. He criticizes practices that prioritize short-term profits over long-term investor interests.

  8. Idealism and Integrity Bogle extols the virtues of idealism and integrity in business and investing. He argues that ethical behavior and a commitment to serving others should be at the core of capitalism.

  9. Entrepreneurship and Innovation Bogle discusses the role of entrepreneurship and innovation in driving economic growth. He highlights the contributions of entrepreneurs and innovators to society.

  10. Heroes of Capitalism Throughout the book, Bogle pays tribute to individuals he considers heroes of capitalism—those who have made significant contributions to the financial industry and the broader economy while upholding ethical principles.

  11. Reflections on Life In addition to financial topics, Bogle shares personal reflections on life, mortality, and the pursuit of meaning and purpose.

Don’t Count on It!” provides readers with valuable insights from a legendary figure in the world of finance. Bogle’s principles of low-cost investing, long-term thinking, and ethical behavior continue to influence the investment industry and inspire individuals to make informed financial decisions.

Target Audience

The book “Don’t Count on It!” by John C. Bogle is targeted at a diverse audience interested in finance, investing, and the inner workings of the financial industry. Recommended reading for the following audiences:

  • Individual Investors Bogle’s book provides invaluable insights for individual investors seeking to navigate the complex world of finance. It offers a solid foundation of knowledge, dispelling common myths and empowering readers to make informed decisions about their investments. Whether new to investing or experienced in the field, readers will find practical guidance to help them align their investment strategy with their long-term financial goals.

  • Financial Professionals “Don’t Count on It!” is essential reading for financial advisors, wealth managers, and other professionals in the financial industry. Bogle’s arguments for simplicity, low-cost investing, and fiduciary responsibilities challenge the status quo in the industry and prompt professionals to critically evaluate their practices. By advocating for putting clients’ interests first and emphasizing the importance of transparency, the book serves as a call to action for those committed to providing their clients with sound financial advice.

  • Academics and Researchers Scholars and researchers in finance, economics, and related fields will find “Don’t Count on It!” to be a valuable resource. Bogle’s book is backed by extensive data, research, and historical perspectives that provide a solid basis for further academic exploration. The book stimulates critical thinking and offers new avenues for research on topics such as passive investing, market efficiency, and the impact of fees on investor returns.

  • Anyone Concerned with Financial Literacy In an era where financial decisions impact individuals and families at every stage of life, “Don’t Count on It!” is a recommended read for those seeking to improve their financial literacy. Bogle’s accessible writing style ensures that readers without a background in finance can comprehend and engage with the topics discussed. The book empowers readers to be more informed consumers of financial services and to question the prevailing narratives surrounding investment strategies.

In conclusion, “Don’t Count on It!” is recommended reading for a wide range of audiences, including individual investors, financial professionals, academics, researchers, and anyone interested in enhancing their financial literacy. Bogle’s book offers valuable insights, challenges conventional wisdom, and encourages readers to adopt a prudent and disciplined approach to investing. By shedding light on the flaws within the financial industry, it aims to create a more transparent and investor-centric landscape.