Vanguard Reviews in Valley Forge, PA | Glassdoor

Vanguard Valley Forge Reviews

Updated June 29, 2017
60 reviews

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Valley Forge, PA

2.9
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Vanguard Chairman and CEO William McNabb
William McNabb
38 Ratings

60 Employee Reviews

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Pros
Cons
  • Also there is a high turnover rate because it is more of a call center position once you get through training (in 128 reviews)

  • Pay is lower then the average but it is a trade off for the work life/balance (in 46 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. Helpful (4)

    "Get Rid of TCS"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Contractor - IT Contractor in Valley Forge, PA
    Former Contractor - IT Contractor in Valley Forge, PA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Vanguard as a contractor (More than a year)

    Pros

    Didn't really interact with Vanguard staff.

    Cons

    Was contractor with TCS and their God-awful racist, misogynist, highly unprofessional, inept H1B staff.

    Advice to Management

    Vanguard can do better than conduct business with those TCS miscreants.


  2. "Great work environment, plenty of opportunities within the company to move both laterally and vertically."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Project Administrator in Valley Forge, PA
    Former Employee - Project Administrator in Valley Forge, PA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Vanguard full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Lots of opportunities within a strong organization. A place you can spend your career. They want you to move within the organization to continue to learn and grow.

    Cons

    Typical challenges with any large company that has a lot of layers of management. It would be nice if there was more of an opportunity to work remotely.

    Advice to Management

    Make a stronger effort to identify high achievers that are early in the career, specifically those that don't enter the organization in an excellerated program.

  3. Helpful (1)

    "Nice Company"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - IT Project Manager in Valley Forge, PA
    Former Employee - IT Project Manager in Valley Forge, PA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Vanguard full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    Nice benefits package, great location, generous training programs, and their salary compensation is consistent with their compensation. A hard working HR department that tries hard to do what's best for the company and it's employees. They get more things right than wrong.

    Cons

    Very competitive environment. Ridiculous long work hours are expected so work/life balance lines are very blurry. The culture can be a bit extreme at times.

    Advice to Management

    Work to LIVE and not the other way around.


  4. Helpful (25)

    "Take this job and once you get it immediately plan to leave"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Client Service Associate in Valley Forge, PA
    Former Employee - Client Service Associate in Valley Forge, PA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Vanguard full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    The people. A solid group work here and have the best for their clients in mind. Sadly, that will come at the expense of your sanity. Vanguard is good to have on your resume. I worked here for 3 years and even though I regularly look back and wince, it got me a job comfortably paying twice as much.

    Gym, expensive cafe (which closes at 2pm which is when your lunch will be), car services, health benefits, the whole Corporate America 9 yards.

    Cons

    If this is your first job get ready because you will be worked to AT-COST death. Simply enough, look at the amount of people who took the time to write thousand word reviews on how poor it is. Don't close your ears when you hear that "white collar slavery" joke because you'll only have yourself to blame.

    The summary: you will be managed by a mediocre mid level supervisor who has been there 10 years and has "made it this far." That person will have no idea what s/he is doing because s/he's so far displaced from the job. Your phone will ring every second of the day that you are there and clients wait on hold for an hour which naturally makes them yell at you. If you want/need time off, yeah right. You will make requests via Aspect, which treats you exactly like Vanguard views you: a number. When you look down the career line you will see two paths

    1. Become that miserable manager who got a raise twice in 10 years and has dealt with a decade of misery

    2. Take your talent elsewhere

    TLDR; read the title. This review is truth.

    Advice to Management

    Stop treating people like numbers. And you know what, if that's really what you want to do fine, but hire a lot more numbers so they aren't quitting left and right because they are overworked.


  5. Helpful (9)

    "Mixed bag"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Analyst in Valley Forge, PA
    Current Employee - Analyst in Valley Forge, PA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Vanguard full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    Vanguard believes in itself, having an uncompromising view on ethics. They really try to do the right thing. They also try to treat everyone fairly--to a fault, which means getting tripped up occasionally over the rules. Benefits are excellent, as is work/life--for most people. Managers are extremely inconsistent, some saints.

    Cons

    With the latest CEO, a former salesman, Vanguard has relaxed a LOT of its standards and controls. Now the push is to sell instead of excel. There is little keeping the business back from making really tragic mistakes as they recklessly push international expansion rather than focusing on their core. The HR department is dictatorial and a bit ridiculous. A lot of the Vanguard differentiators are being watered down by external consultant recommendations and imported MBAs, leading the culture to be more average, which is sad.

    Advice to Management

    Stop compromising on the "pledge to clients," and put HR under an operating officer rather than as a CEO direct.


  6. Helpful (36)

    "Client relationship associate"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Client Relationship Administrator in Valley Forge, PA
    Current Employee - Client Relationship Administrator in Valley Forge, PA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Vanguard full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    Only thing I can honestly say that's good about this place after 10 years is the PTO.

    Cons

    This company has become focused on only one thing, metrics. It has forgotten the two most important things that made this company, clients and crew. Crew on the phones are so overworked that it's the cause of all the poor service clients receive. The pay is horrible. For the amount of stress you deal with, it's not worth it. You get screamed at all day by clients for problems that have nothing to do with you. They cut many employees benefits due to the restructure. You take away someone's year end bonus they are not going to perform well. This place is no longer what it use to be. Run, don't just walk away from this company. If you aren't willing to drink the kool-aid you will either not advance or once you hit 40 they will find a way to get you out.

    Advice to Management

    Make this job worth while. Pay your employees better if you are going to demand that they continue to perform with your ridiculous expectations. Also stop having management post all these glowing reviews. You're not fooling anyone.


  7. "Internal Sales"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Internal Sales in Valley Forge, PA
    Current Employee - Internal Sales in Valley Forge, PA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Vanguard full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Culture, Training, Work-Life Balance, Career Opportunities, Job Stability

    Cons

    Technology, Change Management, Business Investment

  8. Helpful (1)

    "Senior Systems Tester"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Financial Administrator in Valley Forge, PA
    Current Employee - Financial Administrator in Valley Forge, PA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Vanguard full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    Excellent environment, benefits, work life balance. Working conditions are fantastic in certain locations and way too open for privacy in othersl

    Cons

    Watch out for lines of business being exited without much earning. They'll try to find you a spot but in the end you're likely to have to locate one yourself or go back to school to get FINRA licences (while still employed if you're lucky)

    Advice to Management

    Please be totally upfront with employees when experiencing the Crew Transition Process as sometimes the jobs have little substance or detailed clarity to judge how well one might perform (and be judged) in that role


  9. Helpful (60)

    "Silent Leadership"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Financial Advisor in Valley Forge, PA
    Former Employee - Financial Advisor in Valley Forge, PA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Vanguard full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    Most of the people that work at Vanguard are talented and caring. It is easy to work for a company that puts client's first and attempts to eliminate conflicts of interest. People, purpose and complacency keep most employees around.

    Cons

    Instead of telling you what it’s like to work at Vanguard I want to describe how it feels; a recent business decision helped sum it up for me. There has been quite a bit of turnover for financial planners and managers in PAS recently, and they are having a tough time hiring enough external candidates to handle the volume they are creating. After close to two years in the making, they finally adjusted planner salaries to be competitive in the market. There have been years of pleading from advisors about increasing compensation based on the added responsibilities under the new PAS model. Instead of understanding the considerations of the advisors, they doled out salary increases because of turnover. And that’s how it feels to work at Vanguard; you don’t feel like they want you to work there, you feel like they don’t want you to quit. They make decisions out of fear, not appreciation.

    Big picture (or what useless managers call the 30,000-foot view), Vanguard gets it right. They have a pristine reputation, industry leading products, and quality services that have led them to over $3 trillion under management. At a very local level, they also get it right by micromanaging their call centers as bare bones and efficiently as possible. This has led to the lowest fees for their products in the industry. But it’s somewhere in the middle where they screw it up. Somewhere between the board’s dogmatic focus on mission and the entry-level turnstile positions. Positions that require highly skilled, intelligent employees; that’s where they struggle. I think a lot has to do with management in these positions. If the regulatory bodies didn’t require a certain amount of licensed managers, the people Vanguard hires to fill these middle management roles would barely have the skills to manage an Arby’s. Just imagine someone fresh out of college, or someone with no industry experience, with no experience doing your actual job, telling you what you are doing wrong. Not to make you better, but to make it look like they are making you better. This lack of experience and lack of empathy leads to bigger issues.

    These managers need a consistent performance measure to show they aren’t discriminating, and a way to manage people that doesn’t expose their own lack of talent. There are some performance measures that are logical like retaining or enrolling clients. Then there are others they come up with that are confusing and illustrate their disconnect, like how many times you can get an 80-year-old client to go into a video conference room online. You know, because forcing people to use outdated technology is a good measure of financial success. Vanguard knows management is weak in the middle, that’s why they promote a management style called “Quiet Leadership”. Managers can’t actually make you better or solve any issues you have, so they try to make you do it by answering your questions with questions. “Quiet Leadership” means they literally ask you questions and give no answers. It’s brilliant from a business perspective. They can save money by hiring under-qualified managers that don’t mind treating adults like children.

    More specific to Personal Advisor Services, the poor change management has turned a promising career path into just another job. The surveys they give to assess crew engagement have shown just how poorly management has mishandled the transition into PAS. Change is never easy, but the way Vanguard does it makes it so stressful on employees. They will make decisions that have ripple effects they never think through. They screw up fundamental elements of a financial service and refuse to fix it (ask an advisor to describe how the performance is measured, and how confident they are in the numbers). Whether it’s the lousy technology, overly conservative policy changes, or the cumbersome processes they roll out, none of it helps advisors or clients. All of the responsibility is on the advisor to apologize for mistakes, make clients aware of coming changes that will adversely affect them, and to be familiar with extremely complex processes that should not even be the advisor’s responsibility. For some reason, Vanguard has taken away all of the support advisors used to have under the AMS service model, and replaced it with technology that doesn’t work and contractors that can barely make trades for clients without a paragraph of instructions. If you think the technology doesn’t work, you should see the employees that are required to generate leads. The leads advisors get set the expectation that client's will have a free financial plan and consultation, but in reality we are going to try to sign them up for a paid service. It’s not a good experience for the client. With all of the known issues, nobody in management ever takes responsibility or even apologizes for the mistakes. They just make you feel like everyone else is dealing with it, so you should too.

    The whole company lacks transparency. They tell you PAS is not a sales job, but you have to enroll 20% of the clients you speak with everyday. Just because advisors are salaried doesn’t mean it’s not a sales job, it just means Vanguard won’t compensate employees properly. We tell clients we are financial advisors and they should pay us for wholistic advice, but all we do is rebalance their portfolios (we also offer the same service for free). The problem is that Vanguard restricts our ability to plan for clients based on limited resources and strict standards for our discussions (like not being able to discuss capital gains, that is not a joke, we received a memo stating we could not estimate capital gains while telling clients to generate them). Vanguard had a research paper to help clients try to see the value of the service; in it, Vanguard estimated the value of an advisor was about 3%. Regulators have recently told Vanguard they can’t use that research with clients because it is misleading. It’s pretty telling when the seminal research paper used to justify the value of your service gets pulled by regulators. They pitch the service like it’s wealth management. They make employees and advisors tout the estate planning, tax planning and insurance planning we can do. In reality, we only have surface discussions. It would be like going to a mechanic, and the mechanic saying “I can change your oil, but I can only discuss all the other stuff wrong with your car. You will need to go somewhere else to get all the other stuff fixed.” He’s not a mechanic, he’s an oil changer. We are not financial advisors, we are portfolio managers. And that’s fine, just be honest about it.

    There are a lot of talented employees at Vanguard, and PAS is a great opportunity to help clients manage their portfolios. Up to this point, Vanguard is wasting talent, and missing an opportunity to market and develop what could be a fantastic service, honestly.

    It seems like Vanguard has a lot of satisfied clients, and very few satisfied employees. The main objective is keeping costs low, so maybe that’s the way they want it.

    Advice to Management

    Be honest about the issues and have some accountability. You have made large changes in the past, even in the advice department. Learn from your past failures, don't wait for the turnover to take care of your employees, and try to treat people like they are more than just a cog in the machine.


  10. Helpful (23)

    "Jack Brennan vs. Bill McNabb (Winning vs. Losing)"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Valley Forge, PA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Valley Forge, PA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    Jack - Took care of employees and managed performance and returns at a successful and high level

    Cons

    Bill - Scrapped the employees, morale and reward. Instead he chose to outsource jobs, drop wages and headcount.

    Advice to Management

    Bring Jack back.


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