Vanguard names BlackRock veteran as CEO: WSJ

Salim Ramji led BlackRock’s ETF business and left in January

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 (ETFs) and index investing until earlier this year — is expected to be named Vanguard’s CEO soon, people familiar with the matter said, assuming the company doesn’t change course at the last minute. The Wall Street Journal reported earlier that Ramji's appointment was imminent.

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." Ramji is credited with expanding BlackRock's multitrillion-dollar iShares ETF business. In his final role, he oversaw two-thirds of BlackRock's more than $10 trillion in assets under management.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
BLK BLACKROCK INC. 781.90 -2.65 -0.34%

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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 261.84 +1.83 +0.70%
IVV ISHARES TRUST CORE S&P 500 532.15 +3.51 +0.66%

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.

Vanguard, John Bogle

John C. Bogle, founder of the Vanguard Group, looks on at the Bloomberg Markets Most Influential Summit in New York City on Sept. 22, 2014. (Peter Foley/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

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

Salim Ramji, head of BlackRock's U.S. Wealth Advisory, speaks during the Reuters Global Wealth Management Summit in New York City on June 16, 2016. (Reuters/Brendan McDermid)

At Vanguard, Ramji will take over a colossal asset manager in its own right, 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. 

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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 report.