I have been working at Vanguard full-time (More than 5 years)
-- People. Most are dedicated and trying to do the "right thing" and make the company great. I have formed many friendships that continue outside of work.
-- Benefits. The 401k matching is top notch. There is also a significant amount of PTO (which you can use for sick time, vacation time, personal time, etc.). In addition to what the company provides, you can also buy up to a week. We observe a lot of holidays. Medical care is also very generous (for the crew member only. Add in spouses/kids and not as competitive). They instituted a lot of hoops to get some money back as well (BMI, smoking, blood pressure, etc.), but a lot of companies are doing that these days and since it's up to $500, you can end up paying very little out of pocket with plans. Recently, they have added severance, parental leave, loan paybacks, etc. Some people balk at this saying it's how VG is trying to get out of lawsuits, and that might be true, but for the average crew member, these are only seen as great things.
-- Certifications. They pay you to study and get your licenses needed for the job you're in (which is 63, 6, and/or 7 for most jobs), but you can also get more if you need them for certain roles (53, 65, 24, etc.). Anyone can sign up to get the CFP or CFA and in addition to other tuition reimbursement, VG offers an in-house, accelerated MBA program (you have to sign up and qualify).
--Training. There are a ton of in person and online training courses for crew to take. Of course, there are some specialized ones for those who want to become supervisors as well. A slight "con" in this section - once people become leaders, there is zero required training. So, you can have someone with this as their first supervisor job and some with 20+ years of experience and there is no additional training for any of them in their new roles.
-- Vision. Being at VG for over six years, I have seen a lot of changes within the company, and for the most part, I applaud them. The reason is that VG was very much a "sit back and they will come to us" mentality when I first joined. Since I had a lot of service and sales experience, I couldn't believe we were letting so many opportunities pass us by with clients. So, I'm happy to see that we're finally getting more competitive.
-- People. Three main camps of people at VG. The first is the long term crew member. They're the ones who have been here from the beginning and are really feeling the pinch of the changes the company is making. Some are leaving voluntarily ("this isn't the VG I know") and some are being pushed out via metrics and strong performance management. For what it's worth, I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing as some people who have lived their entire careers at the company just don't embrace change or have any experience from outside the company to help with growth. Some are used to doing to most minimal amounts of work and sitting back while VG pays giant Partnerships, free lunches, extensive PTO, etc., and they truly don't add value any more. There are others who are being pushed out and are GOOD PEOPLE, but are caught up in the undertow or just aren't willing to put up with the shite they're seeing. That's unfortunate. The second is the "just out of college" newbie. They are coming in, getting their certifications, putting in a minimal amount of time, and then leaving for bigger and better jobs. VG is trying to counteract this with recent pay increases to be "competitive" but you have so much more to fix to get these guys to stay. The third is the folks hired externally over the past ten years. So much experience brought to the table and because the senior leaders are all long term VG people, they don't recognize this. These people have had to shut up and drink the kool-aid instead of doing what they were hired to do and that's inject another view point into things. People in the VADP program are handed promotion after promotion with ZERO experience actually leading others. They often are stepping on the backs of their crew in order to get ahead for themselves. You can put a one pager together? You wear a suit? You network with the right people? YOU'RE PROMOTED. Ugh. It's pathetic and such a waste of talent. This group is starting to leave in DROVES. Can't wait to see the impact over the next couple of years when VG realizes what they lost.
-- Politics. I have never seen anything like it in my life (and I have worked at several other companies in various industries). If you don't network with the correct people, you do not get promoted or the job you want. There are "back room" deals happening all of the time. A job is posted, people apply, and then the person they already had in mind for the job gets it, even if they're not as qualified. When a senior manager moved into a new group, they bring all of their old colleagues with them. The people already there have no chance.
-- Environment. It's dependent solely on your direct boss. There are people who should never have been in leadership treating people like absolute trash. It's stressful. I know multiple people who have taken "stress leaves" because of VG. It's a financial company, not the POTUS, for god's sake. It shouldn't be this bad.
-- Workload. Where do I start? People are overworked. I won't even say underpaid, because that's relative to the person and role, but the amount they expect people to work (hours and volume) is incredible. People get burned out quickly. We are supposed to "right staff" but in reality, we "under staff" on purpose in every group, especially in the cost centers. Upper management used Gallup polls as "scorecards" for TLs, even though most of the questions are about how VG is running and we have zero control over any of that.
-- Reviews. Calibrations, differentiation sessions, "unofficial" bell curves. Yep, we have it all. And in reality, it comes down to how much your leader can tell your "story" as to where you fall in your annual review. I've seen poor performers with year over year bad reviews stay in their jobs and/or get raises and/or get promotions and I've seen top performers with year over year great reviews stay stagnant for no reason. They're not a good indication of performance.
Advice to Management
You spend an awful lot of time trying to figure out what's wrong, and yet every survey and focus group is a bust because people are AFRAID OF RETALIATION to tell you the truth. Even when you take the time to try and understand what's happening, you never follow through. The rotations of senior managers, department heads, and principals means that once someone comes in and tries to start fixing things, their two years is up and they move on and we all start again. Start retaining leaders in roles for longer to drive some actual change and HOLD MANAGERS AND ABOVE ACCOUNTABLE.
I have been working at Vanguard full-time (More than 10 years)
Good benefits, Vanguard measures it as "total" compensation
Expectation to be 10% perfect in absolutely everything you do which is not sustainable.
Advice to Management
Stoop picking 1 team member every year end to give an FDN (further develop necessary) to.
I worked at Vanguard full-time (More than 3 years)
Awesome company to work for.
Not really any cons I can think of.
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I have been working at Vanguard full-time (More than 3 years)
Benefits: paid time off, 401(k) match, closed during major holidays
Easy job, you don't take your work home
Some departments have a 4 day work schedule
Lack of advancement opportunities - not a place for a long-term career
Mind-numbing job - no learning and growing
Harder to move internally than switching to a competing firm
Low pay compared to competitors
Big corporation feel, you're just a number
Extremely high backlog
"Leaders" don't lead, they just manage
High management turnover
Too much micro managing
Working Saturdays (operations)
Lack of flexibility and schedule change
Okay job to start out of college. The lack of client facing experience during this role will make it extremely hard to move on with your career, unless you're looking for a position that doesn't deal with clients. My advice is to try to apply internally after 1.5 years of employment to get your series 7 and a client facing role. Your resume will look very poor with just the processing associate role on it. If you have high career aspirations I would advise to look elsewhere. Most of my training class peers quit after 1 year at the company.
Career advancement are extremely difficult and plagued with politics. Even if you’re exceeding the required metrics, they’ll find ways to take away your merit increase or offer a promotion. After almost 3 years at the company, new hires are starting at a higher base than my current one. Managers say “productivity doesn’t matter, it’s all about quality”, but they will still have unpleasant talks about increasing your numbers (even if you’re at 100% quality). Some people are lucky to have nice managers (they’re labeled “leaders”), but you’re lucky if you have the same manager for over a year.
So just like Walmart, it’s a great company for the consumer with a narrow focus on low cost, but not a good place for a career.
I have been working at Vanguard full-time
Takes care of their employees
Potential for growth
Inititially lower paying within the industry
I worked at Vanguard full-time (More than a year)
You start with great PTO and potential for working 4 days a week. They don't technically lay-off, but they do fire you if your metrics are low.
The organization as a whole does not have conflicts of interest in their investing with no greedy shareholders to appease (minus partnership). They truly care about their clients and they should extend this unyielding care to their employees.
THE PAY. I cannot even fathom how this organization gets away with paying as little as it does. This is true of a ton of jobs in this industry. Just to give you an idea, since leaving Vanguard, I have tripled my salary in just a few years outside of "financial services" aka the absolute worst industry to be in unless you're an investment banker or love sales.....
The licenses are basically worthless as the industry forces so many people to have them. They're literally a dime a dozen. If you plan on staying in the low paying financial services world fine, but I didn't and they were worthless when I left.
Vanguard tracks literally your every single movement that feeds into your "metrics." These metrics determine your fate with the organization. Use the bathroom? They know. Use it too many times? They'll have a conversation when it pops up on your metrics. Metrics, metrics, metrics. It's so impersonal and dehumanizing. I happened to be a high performer when it came to these metrics, but to many it was very stressful. I didn't like feeling like a number on a piece of paper instead of an employee with great ideas and aspirations. Since leaving Vanguard I have helped to think up ideas for companies to save literally millions of dollars. Could I have done the same at VG? Maybe....
Some of the "management" are very little more than inexperienced kids with degrees. I was fortunate enough to have an amazing manager while at the organization who had over 20 years management experience. As soon as I found out some kid was going to be put in charge, I knew my time was up.....well that and an offer for double my salary from a former employer.
As a former "graduate" of one of the financial services management training programs (not VADP, but a higher equivalent at a competitor), I can tell you they're political BS. The kids thrust into these roles that, on average, do not have what it takes to manage people or complex processes. Are there exceptions? Absolutely.
So why does Vanguard do this? MONEY. They don't want to pay what true managers command. I have not had a manager since leaving Vanguard that made less than six figures and I hope I never do. You get what you pay for.
Advice to Management
Stop calling "management" team leaders. These are not team leaders, there are managers. Whatever consultant or HR person told you that should be fired. This is now an area of expertise for me and I have a suspicion this is being done to artificially deflate wages. I highly suggest you look at RESPONSIBILITIES of the role before aligning it to a person who DOES NOT manage people (Team Leader).
Stop hiding executive compensation. What do you have to hide? Are you embarrassed by the disparity between your workers and CEO? Well you should be.
Vanguard isn't really a bad place, but you have the opportunity to make it a GREAT place.
I have been working at Vanguard full-time (More than 5 years)
Benefits are fantastic and could retain talent if management wasn't so bad.
401k benefits are second to few.
Career opportunities are available if you do not speak out about the very real issues impacting the clients and organizations
I have never seen a company lose more TOP talent than I have seen Vanguard lose in the past year. When I say top talent I mean double digit tenure and senior advisors/administrators who simply could no longer tolerate a mid 20year old micro manager whose insecurities and self serving approach prove their inability to lead.
These managers simply do an excellent job "talking the talk"
Work life balance is non-existent IF you want to meet work load expectations. Even self driven motivated top tier professionals putting in 50+ hours per week cannot keep up.
Flagship has become nothing more than a sweat shop call center with little to no engagement. The stress can be felt throughout the floor.
Resources / business partners / technology and processing is worse than the press they are getting. It is a nightmare if you are client facing.
Advice to Management
Have a leadership vewtting process that is able to descern beyond the verbal strategy of your inexperienced managers before you have the lead seasoned professionals and lose excellent talent to you competition. This is a serious threat to the future of Vanguard. Quite simply VADP managers suck! But you don't have to take my word for it, inevitably you will see the demise.
I worked at Vanguard (More than a year)
- FINRA licensing; depending on the role, you'll probably get a series 6 or 7 at entry level, (for the recent grads out there, a series 7 is really a necessity if you're serious about progressing in the financial services industry and is the primary benefit of starting at vanguard in my opinion - they have a training system and you will pass the exams, which is also a benefit to perspective employers who are far more likely to go for someone already licensed)
- retirement saving; vanguard offers the means to pretty aggressively contribute to your 401k so if you are looking to catch up and/or retire soon and save as much as possible, they are probably a good option and benefits overall aren't bad
- work life balance; 37.5 hour work week - if that's what you're looking for..
- training; they offer a ton of personal development opportunities in a wide array of subjects, which, while only occasionally useful in and of themselves, are a great way to break up the monotony of your day-to-day job. Vanguard did pay for my CFA level 1 testing however, for which I am quite grateful and education is probably the one area in which Vanguard excels.
You have to start somewhere, vanguard isn't a bad place to do that in finance and, if you're a recent ASU grad like I was, you might not have many options in this field in AZ. My opinion is this; to each their own, but if you're like me and got out of college ready to swing for the corporate fences, learn what you can, get the licenses/professional development that you need, kill it at work and move on. There is so much to do in finance and, while absolutely enormous, Vanguard represents just a small portion of the industry. It's a good start, but you can do better.
- work life balance; yes, also a con. get ready to work a lot of overtime at entry level if you're hoping to make ends meet and not default on all that student loan debt you probably have...
- did I mention pay? *Serious word of caution though, while I heard that they may be moving away from this model eventually, whatever pay level you join at pretty much defines the rate at which your pay will progress over time (meaning, you if were to start at the bottom and work your way up, you will in every likelihood make LESS than the external candidate who got hired from outside for the same job - this is the main reason I left the company and no, it's not based on gender.. separate issue there as well in my opinion, though not in the traditional sense, additional color on that point to follow..)
- career progression seemed to be more about time in job than results in job. You are not likely to outperform your way to a promotion by taking on extra work or projects outside of your normal role so just kick back and wait in line for that minor pay bump like everyone else, I'm sure your number will be called eventually...
- very large company; roles are highly specialized (to maximize efficiency), which in my opinion makes for an exceptionally monotonous day-to-day, regardless of the role you're in. comes with the territory for large companies though
- very strong, bordering on pervasive, corporate culture; the team leaders/managers almost have their own dialect ("speak to that," "learning opportunity," "engagement survey," and other various nonsense words that I assume are instilled through some kind of training process or perhaps outright brainwashing [sarcasm]. Having that 1:1 with your team leader is like having a conversation with Siri; artificial, shallow, and oh so politically correct.
- almost abusive use of acronyms throughout the firm (there are literally hundreds, you won't know what people are talking about when referring to different departments for months)
- gender bias; this could be a pro as well, which is why I saved it for last. In the financial services industry, there is a well evidenced male gender-bias, in pay as well as proportion. Refreshingly, that is not the case at Vanguard. There are a lot of girls who work there (not a con, obviously). Being the white, middle-class male that I am, never have I experienced a "glass ceiling" of any kind... until vanguard. Regardless of how you self-identify, save yourself some time and give up on those aspirations of making it into management unless you fit the mold of late 20s to early 30s blonde girl who majored in something like communications or interior design and stumbled into an accelerated management program (I think that's where the brainwashing occurs by the way). In all seriousness, it's truly uncomfortable to feel disadvantaged in such a manner, however slightly. I am now a staunch feminist. go equality.
Advice to Management
start over. seriously. create a system that rewards hard work and professional achievement, pay your employees a good wage and they will work more efficiently/effectively (and you can attract better talent to replace the employees who don't) and, most importantly, they will stay with you longer, making that upfront investment go significantly further. you will see an immediate improvement in client interactions, which would be immediately reflected in AUM (It's a miracle that Vanguard is able to retain any high net worth clients, let alone attract new ones. I can assure you from personal experience, the delay in service is not due to abnormally high call volume but is a result of the outrageous length of time it takes the average associate to handle a given request or issue, 20 minute disastrous experience minimum if you dare call in, and that's in the top client segment. God help those in the bottom tiers). I find it hard to believe that the revolving door that is Vanguard's talent pool of employees to be part of a viable long term strategy. Despite the record year, indexing will not always be in favor and services provided will quickly start to outweigh saving an extra bp annually on the expense ratio. You will need the talent in place to provide such services and innovate to remain competitive in the ever-changing landscape that is the financial services industry. I suspect that day will come sooner rather than later and advise that you invest in your employees while times are still good. The market over the next 5 years will prove to be quite challenging. And what is it that I keep reading about Jack Bogle, ETFs, indexing, and systemic risk... best of luck out there.. but hey, you can't beat the index, right?
I worked at Vanguard full-time (More than 5 years)
I worked in the Scottsdale office for 6 years.
> Excellent benefits - medical/dental, 401k match, partnership. I hear they're doing student loan payoffs now...really great! Really, the benefits are unmatched in the industry.
> Leadership development - several programs focused on leadership acumen, very good leadership at middle management level, high premium focused on coaching and developing crew
> Culture - you work for a company owned by it's shareholders and it shows, very little competition b/t employees, polite/nice/genuinely GOOD people work here
> Great training - State of the art, award winning Vanguard University will give you everything you need and more
> Licensing/designation sponsorships - Get all your FINRA licenses, CFP, CFA, MBA, etc. it's all paid for and there are many programs to help you study
> PTO - You get a lot of it, like a lot. And you can buy a week. I think I had 7-8 weeks when I left.
> 'Rotation based' - Rotations are encouraged and plentiful. So are internships. And, people generally root for each other.
> Community involvement - Vanguard, like many large AZ firms, is big in the community
> Great Senior Leadership - Excellent site leadership, more senior positions coming from Philly
> Business casual environment - You're not judged by the way you dress. Wear a golf shirt and dress pants to work, totally fine. Want to suit up? No prob.
> Great reputation - Many people start their careers here, work for 5-7 years, get there licenses, maybe some leadership experience, and then parlay that experience for bigger and better things. Other companies, especially in financial services, will come calling. They know Vanguard is second to none when it comes to training, ethics, and talent identification.
> Bureaucratic organization - Depends on the department, but Vanguard is generally not a meritocracy, instead your bonuses and career trajectory are based on popularity, networking, interviewing skills, and a "what-have-you-done-for-me-lately" attitude. Again, not all the time, but mostly
> Getting too big, and clients will start to notice - Vanguard prides themselves on 'cost-to-serve'. They'd like to reduce expense ratios as low as possible. This is fantastic for clients and returns, but scaling a $4 trillion enterprise is tricky on operations i.e. long hold times, clunky processes, outdated technology. An elephant can only move so fast.
> Becoming a sales organization - Departments like Flagship, Concierge Services, and Personal Advisor Services are turning to a sales focus. It's a transition. Vanguard spent years NOT selling anything...they just let clients come to them. Now, they're focused on sales tactics. This isn't necessarily a bad things, but they don't have the talent to do it...yet.
> Poor pay for entry level leaders - Starting pay is OK, but you get roughly 7% when you move up a level, and the salary minimums are LOW for the industry
> Career ceiling - If you're in a certain line of work i.e. HR, portfolio management, IT, etc, you'll hit a ceiling in Scottsdale at some point
> Hope to have a good boss - The good ones are really great, the bad ones...ehhhh. People are leaving there bosses, not Vanguard.
Advice to Management
> Recognize and address the Exodus - Your leaders are leaving in droves. Why? What are you doing to keep them? Understand that most young leaders are being attracted by other firms. What are you doing to stay competitive?
> Offer salary 'adjustments' more often
> Offer an in-house MBA/Line Manager development program
> Bring more technical jobs out to Scottsdale
I worked at Vanguard full-time (More than 5 years)
Great people, Everyone liked to work in teams to help each other but could also work individually. Supervisors listen and act. On an emergency basis, very flexible. Good hours, challenging, but most of all, management - associate dynamic was very good.
inflexible hours in season, pay a little low, had trouble recognizing peoples abilities and exploiting them for maximum output. Difficult to get in the front door and more difficult to move inside the company.
Advice to Management
Before the financial business I was self employed with 50 people reporting to me. I had manuals, I had policies. However, it is my believe, while those things are of course essential in a large company, they should be used as guidelines and not law. When I manage people, I use policies and procedures, but more importantly I use my "guts and my instincts," that's why I have them.
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