Vanguard Prepares to Tap Former BlackRock Executive as CEO: WSJ

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Vanguard Group is preparing to name a former BlackRock executive as its next leader, putting an outsider in charge of the asset manager for the first time in its roughly 50-year history.

Salim Ramji —who led BlackRock’s exchange-traded funds and index investing until earlier this year—is expected to be named Vanguard’s chief executive officer soon, people familiar with the matter said, assuming the company doesn’t change course at the last minute.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
BLK BLACKROCK INC. 803.05 +12.55 +1.59%

Ramji left BlackRock in January after about a decade. He said at the time that he planned to “seek a new leadership or entrepreneurial opportunity outside the firm.” He is credited with expanding BlackRock’s multitrillion-dollar iShares ETF business. 

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Pennsylvania-based Vanguard in February said CEO Mortimer J. “Tim” Buckley  was stepping down and that the firm was launching a search process for its next leader. It also promoted Greg Davis, previously Vanguard’s chief investment officer, to president. 

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
VTI VANGUARD INDEX FUNDS TOTAL STK MKT ETF 259.45 +1.26 +0.49%
IVV ISHARES TRUST CORE S&P 500 525.88 +2.37 +0.45%

Ramji will be the first Vanguard chief that didn’t work directly with late founder John C. Bogle. Bogle founded Vanguard in 1974 and introduced the world’s first index mutual fund in 1975. He died in 2019, leaving behind an army of loyal customers who call themselves Bogleheads.

Ramji joined BlackRock from McKinsey in 2014 to lead corporate strategy. He also led its U.S. wealth-advisory business before taking his most recent role. He was among a half dozen executives seen as potential replacements for co-founder and CEO Larry Fink, though other candidates appeared to be in the pole position after a recent reorganization. 

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Vanguard, BlackRock

At Vanguard, Ramji will take over a colossal asset manager, second only to his former employer. It has excelled at collecting new assets but experienced growing pains along the way, including technology issues and customer-service complaints on its brokerage platform. 

The firm is attempting to expand beyond its core business of managing ultracheap funds tracking stock and bond indexes by pushing into the more lucrative business of charging customers for financial advice.

Vanguard keeps its financial performance private. Unlike many of its competitors, the company is owned by its funds, a setup that it says helps it pass profits onto shareholders in the form of cheaper fees.

—Jack Pitcher contributed to this article.

Write to Cara Lombardo at [email protected] and Justin Baer at [email protected]

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