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Vanguard’s Gain Is Wall Street’s Pain as Billions Leave the Financial Industry

Passive investing popularized by Vanguard has removed a chunk of Wall Street's revenue.
John Bogle, founder of Vanguard, is taking a bite out of Wall Street's lunch.

John Bogle, founder of Vanguard, is taking a bite out of Wall Street's lunch.

Photographer: Peter Foley/Bloomberg

While Washington has long been debating how to reform big Wall Street banks, Vanguard Group is quietly doing just that as the company and its army of index funds remove about $20 billion a year in revenue from the financial industry.

So far in 2015, Vanguard is leading a record $365 billion in net flows into low-cost and passively managed index funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs), according to Bloomberg data. Meanwhile, the active mutual funds that constitute some of Wall Street's best customers have lost $147 billion, according to the Investment Company Institute. That adds up to about a half-a-trillion-dollar swing so far in 2015, which will be the most ever in a year.