Dec 30, 2022

NGPF Podcast (Classic): Robin Wigglesworth on the Growth of Index Funds

From the NGPF Archives, a conversation with Robin Wigglesworth, author of Trillions, who has done the impossible: he's written a book about index funds that, once you get started, you won't be able to put down.


The index fund product itself may not be compelling, but the characters that Wigglesworth describes certainly are. He traces the growth of index funds and how they moved from a concept developed by academics to how they became the leading investment choice for mutual fund investors.

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  • 0:00~1:20 Introduction
  • 1:20~3:49 Life as a journalist for the Financial Times
  • 3:49~6:03 Early money lessons
  • 6:03~8:30 Decision to write Trillions
  • 8:30~12:20 Warren Buffet’s bet
  • 12:20~22:06 Beginning of index funds
  • 22:06~25:41 Institutional investors and indexing
  • 25:41~32:22 Burton Malkiel and Jack Bogle’s role in the creation of index funds
  • 32:22~32:53 A word from NGPF
  • 32:53~36:54 The founding of Vanguard
  • 36:54~41:19 Index funds taking off
  • 41:19~44:49 Vanguard’s growth
  • 44:49~47:11 ETFs and the State Street Corporation
  • 47:11~53:54 BlackRock and iShares
  • 53:54~60:20 Potential concerns with index funds
  • 60:20~62:34 Conclusion



  • On The Buffet Bet: "He [Ted Seides] chose basically five different funds of hedge funds... together there was a group of a 100 hedge funds, but each of those five piles of hedge funds, none of them managed to beat the US stock market. [They all underperformed] This boring, plain vanilla index fund, that Vanguard sold for 0.04%."


Two resources to teach young people about index funds

About the Authors

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.

Ren Makino

Ren started interning at NGPF in 2014, and worked part-time through high school and college. With his knowledge growing alongside NGPF, he joined the team to work full-time after graduating from college in 2020. He is also the producer of the NGPF podcast. During his free time, he likes to try out coffees from different roasters across the world.

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