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Vanguard CEO sweats the (Internet) details...
Old 11-12-2006, 04:00 AM   #1
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Vanguard CEO sweats the (Internet) details...

Too bad we can't see the website in Asia. I wonder if Mr. Brennan knows that Vanguard's website is not available world wide...

I emailed him at online@vanguard.com. I wonder if he or his representative will respond...

************************************************** ****************
http://www.informationweek.com/showA...cleID=17600110



The Hands-On Approach

Vanguard CEO Brennan always sweats the details

By Chris Murphy
InformationWeek

Feb 2, 2004 12:01 AM

Vanguard Group CEO John Brennan was jogging the wooded roads around Valley Forge, Pa., when he ran past a large sign describing a building as one of the mutual-fund company's data centers. That flagged the fact that the site processed information related to several hundred billion dollars worth of investments.

That was long before the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, heightened awareness about terrorism. Still, Brennan's first thought was, "Who needs to come here who doesn't already know where this building is?"

The sign came down.




We've only begun to tap the Web's potential, Vanguard's Brennan says.

Photo of John Brennan by Dominic Episcopo

Brennan has always been the kind of CEO who sweats the details, especially when it comes to keeping the mutual-fund company ahead in its use of business technology. He's the type of CEO who wants to hear about the total-cost-of-ownership trade-offs of Intel-based versus Sun servers and the legacy-support implications behind them.

So what cutting-edge technologies is this hands-on, tech-savvy CEO excited about this year? How about the World Wide Web?

Brennan acknowledges it sounds odd, since we're well past the Web-changes-everything hysteria. But he believes we've barely tapped the Web's potential. "It looks like we're in year two of this rollout, not year 10," he says.

Vanguard might just be the world's largest virtual company. It manages nearly $600 billion in assets, yet does all its customer interaction by phone, mail, and the Web, which is now its dominant means of contact with investors. It grew through a philosophy of keeping costs down to deliver investors higher returns, along with educating investors better about risks and strategies.

So Brennan is pushing his Web strategists to provide expensive, high-value services such as financial-investment advice through increasingly sophisticated Web-based tools. "Advice today is a very high-cost proposition," he says. "And the only known going into that is higher-cost delivery means less return for shareholders."

That's the fun stuff. But scandal hung over the mutual-fund industry in 2003, including cases of market timing in which unethical brokers granted special favors to large investors, delivering better returns to them than to other shareholders.

Vanguard has been untouched by such problems. The company will continue investing in what Brennan describes as the unglamorous accounting and infrastructure-control systems that, by monitoring trading activity, seek to spot improprieties. But it isn't the systems that have kept Vanguard out of the headlines. "When you invest in that infrastructure, you're investing in the ability to feel confident in your control systems," Brennan says. "But in the end, none of it matters if you don't have the right people."

Another unglamorous area of business technology excites Brennan: lowering the costs of running technology. Given that business technology absorbed 37% of Vanguard's operating budget last year, it makes sense that Brennan pays a lot of attention to IT budgets--and holds business-unit managers accountable for the cost and performance of the technology that runs their operations.

Vanguard isn't looking to cut costs through outsourcing or by hiring lower-cost offshore workers. Brennan considers IT development too strategic for outsourcing and plans to keep technology development at just two locations: the Valley Forge main campus and a Charlotte, N.C., development center. "Physical proximity matters," he says. "It makes us more efficient."

Brennan remains a believer in the idea that how companies use technology will continue to differentiate them. He contends that the industry leaders in almost every sector of the economy--from Wal-Mart to Toyota--are also leaders in how effectively they use business technology, and that that will continue. People tell him it's odd for a CEO to be so hands-on with technology, such as chairing the governance committee that looks at issues such as IT budgets, security, and contingency planning. With so much at stake, says Brennan, "I can't imagine it any other way."
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Re: Vanguard CEO sweats the (Internet) details...
Old 11-12-2006, 04:28 AM   #2
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Re: Vanguard CEO sweats the (Internet) details...

Older article, but interesting and so true re: the importance of IT.

I wonder if the Asia issue is related to Chinese influence on censorship?
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Re: Vanguard CEO sweats the (Internet) details...
Old 11-12-2006, 04:41 AM   #3
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Re: Vanguard CEO sweats the (Internet) details...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles
I wonder if the Asia issue is related to Chinese influence on censorship?
Not as is affects me; I am trying to log on from Thailand
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Re: Vanguard CEO sweats the (Internet) details...
Old 11-12-2006, 08:22 AM   #4
 
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Re: Vanguard CEO sweats the (Internet) details...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lancelot
Not as is affects me; I am trying to log on from Thailand
Same difference to most cons. - Just foreigners 'over there'
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Re: Vanguard CEO sweats the (Internet) details...
Old 11-12-2006, 03:50 PM   #5
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Re: Vanguard CEO sweats the (Internet) details...

Lancelot,

Please keep us updated on this issue. It certainly is important to me.

Paypal used to automatically shut down every account that logged in from Thailand (it did not just fail, your account had to be reactivated from another country). They have since changed this policy, although there are still many country-specific restrictions.

I guess the other option is just to do everything over the phone with Vanguard. I suppose Skype out and Skype in might be good enough for this. You should add a security "word" to your Vanguard account for access by telephone. The default is to not have this, but you can request it.

Thanks,
Kramer
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Re: Vanguard CEO sweats the (Internet) details...
Old 11-13-2006, 04:58 AM   #6
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Re: Vanguard CEO sweats the (Internet) details...

Kramer,

Will do. It is obvious that Vanguard could give a rat's a** about this situation. Any American that lives outside the good old US of A is probably a crook any way, right? OK, I am having a rant about this, but it is weird that most US companies have no concept that some US citizens travel/live abroad and sometimes have problems doing business with stateside firms.

Vanguard's site has been unavailable in Thailand (asia?) since Nov 5 and they basically blow me off when I contact them. What is so strange is that I can still access my Etrade, NetBank and Treasury Direct accounts. I try to take the longview, bit I may have to shift retirement accounts to Fidelity. At least they (Fidelity) are still online for investors in Thaialnd.

Yeah, I have Skype, so I suppose I can fall back on them or run up Vanguard's "collect call" telephone bill...

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

Lance
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Re: Vanguard CEO sweats the (Internet) details...
Old 11-13-2006, 09:57 AM   #7
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Re: Vanguard CEO sweats the (Internet) details...

Here is some info pasted from the Vanguard site regarding contacting thier Asia offices.....maybe you should call and email and snail mail.


Vanguard Investments Singapore Pte Ltd
Level 37 Singapore Land Tower
50 Raffles Place
Singapore 048623




Asia Ex-Japan Region Greater China Region

Contact Person /
Mr. Jon Robinson :Mr. Chen Ee Fang

Email /
Jon.Robinson@vanguard.com.au :EeFang.Chen@vanguard.com.au

Telephone /
+65.6829.7183 :+65.6829.7182

Fax /
+65.6829.7070 : +65.6829.7070

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Re: Vanguard CEO sweats the (Internet) details...
Old 11-13-2006, 10:54 AM   #8
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Re: Vanguard CEO sweats the (Internet) details...

Lance,

I'm curious if you are at the "Voyager" level ($250,000+ in Vanguard Assets) or the Flagship level ($1,000,000+ in Vanguard Assets)? I'm wondering if they really have superior service like they claim (they just sent me an invitation to become a Voyager if I just add a little more $$).
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Re: Vanguard CEO sweats the (Internet) details...
Old 11-16-2006, 04:37 AM   #9
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Re: Vanguard CEO sweats the (Internet) details...

Quote:
Originally Posted by justin
Lance,

I'm curious if you are at the "Voyager" level ($250,000+ in Vanguard Assets) or the Flagship level ($1,000,000+ in Vanguard Assets)? I'm wondering if they really have superior service like they claim (they just sent me an invitation to become a Voyager if I just add a little more $$).
Hi Justin, I am currently at Voyager level and getting very close to Flagship status (for whatever that is worth...)

Quote:
Originally Posted by jazz4cash
Here is some info pasted from the Vanguard site regarding contacting thier Asia offices.....maybe you should call and email and snail mail.


Vanguard Investments Singapore Pte Ltd
Level 37 Singapore Land Tower
50 Raffles Place
Singapore 048623




Asia Ex-Japan Region Greater China Region

Contact Person /
Mr. Jon Robinson :Mr. Chen Ee Fang

Email /
Jon.Robinson@vanguard.com.au :EeFang.Chen@vanguard.com.au

Telephone /
+65.6829.7183 :+65.6829.7182

Fax /
+65.6829.7070 : +65.6829.7070
Thanks Jazz! Great info!

Lance
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Re: Vanguard CEO sweats the (Internet) details...
Old 11-16-2006, 04:55 AM   #10
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Re: Vanguard CEO sweats the (Internet) details...

Mr Brennan responds:

Dear Mr. Lance,

Thank you for contacting Vanguard regarding your online access
concerns.
Mr. Brennan has received your email and asked me to respond on his
behalf.


As head of Vanguard's Web Technical Support Services, I would like to
personally apologize for the inconvenience you have recently
experienced
while attempting to access your accounts through Vanguard.com. Our
records
indicate that you have contacted us several times by email and
telephone
regarding this issue. Vanguard places great emphasis on providing our
clients with premier service and we regret that we were unable to
resolve
this issue upon your first contact.

At Vanguard, we are committed to protecting our clients' personal
account
information and safeguarding their assets. Vanguard has taken, and
will
continue to take, every necessary precaution to safeguard our
investors.
As such, we did temporarily restrict online access to the region of the
world from which you were contacting us due to an increased risk of
web-based fraudulent activity. This restriction was implemented as an
extra security measure to protect our clients living or traveling
abroad
while we investigated the situation.

You will be happy to know that as of Tuesday, November 14, 2006, online
access restrictions to the public portion of Vanguard.com have been
completely lifted. More importantly, clients residing or traveling in
this
area of the world will once again be able to log on and have full
access to
the secure areas of our site provided that they are logging on from a
computer that we recognize (i.e., client previously completed our
online
Enhanced Security process).

I must emphasize the importance of logging on through a 'recognized'
device. This is the computer that you primarily use for conducting
online
activity. Attempts to log on to our site from an unrecognized device
(e.g., a PC at a public location such as an internet cafe) will result
in
an error message and you will only be able to access the public areas
of
the site.

At this time, I would ask that you attempt to log on to our site from a
recognized device. If you are still having difficulty, please call our
Client Services Department at 1-800-662-2739 and ask to speak with a
Web
Technical Support Specialist. We are available to assist you Monday
through Friday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Eastern Time. If you are calling
Vanguard from outside the U.S., please call us collect at 610-669-1000.
Our operators are available to direct your call to Web Technical
Support
Services Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Time.

Mr. Lance, we appreciate your patience and understanding. Your
loyalty
to Vanguard is certainly recognized and valued. We hope that you will
continue to entrust us with the servicing of your accounts and
investment
needs.


Manager
Vanguard Web Technical Support Services


Yesterday, Nov 15, I tried to access Vanguard from an Internet cafe at Pattaya beach. Just like he said, I could get Vanguard's webpage, but could not log in. Today, Nov 16 I successfuly logged in from my laptop, back in Bangkok.

My last Vanguard log in was Nov 3, so I was "offline" for 12 days...

Lance

PS-The collect calls from my cell phone dont work; I'm still charged for the call. It would be an improvement for Vanguard to have some international toll free numbers, but I am not holding my breath...


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Re: Vanguard CEO sweats the (Internet) details...
Old 11-16-2006, 08:40 PM   #11
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Re: Vanguard CEO sweats the (Internet) details...

Lance, thanks for the update.

Quote:
At this time, I would ask that you attempt to log on to our site from a
recognized device.
How does Vanguard tell this Unless you have a fixed IP address, your login IP address will change anywhere from once in a while to all the time. So presumably they are either looking at a cookie that shows you logged in successfully at some time in the past or they are somehow logging your ethernet MAC hardware address (this is fixed per computer) from previous successful logins.

In the cookie case, your ability to log in could go away soon once your cookie expires or is eliminated for some reason. In the MAC case, upgrading your computer system could leave you without the ability to log in.

Any ideas??

Kramer
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Re: Vanguard CEO sweats the (Internet) details...
Old 11-16-2006, 09:49 PM   #12
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Re: Vanguard CEO sweats the (Internet) details...

Quote:
Originally Posted by kramer
Lance, thanks for the update.

How does Vanguard tell this Unless you have a fixed IP address, your login IP address will change anywhere from once in a while to all the time. So presumably they are either looking at a cookie that shows you logged in successfully at some time in the past or they are somehow logging your ethernet MAC hardware address (this is fixed per computer) from previous successful logins.

In the cookie case, your ability to log in could go away soon once your cookie expires or is eliminated for some reason. In the MAC case, upgrading your computer system could leave you without the ability to log in.

Any ideas??

Kramer
Good question Kramer...

I have a feeling that I am going to have another problem when my I delete my cookies or change my ISP (I use different prepaid ISPs-what ever is on sale) For now I'm just happy to have access

Lance
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Re: Vanguard CEO sweats the (Internet) details...
Old 11-17-2006, 09:10 AM   #13
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Re: Vanguard CEO sweats the (Internet) details...

They say they use some sort of "hardware profile" of your machine to know it is you. Maybe like the current Microsoft Authentication process for windows/office?

The vanguard login process is causing me pains now too. I currently can't log into an account that I manage for my employer. They gave me the username and password, but the former account manager hasn't given me the secret question answers yet (like "what is your favorite color? or what was your first pet's name?).
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Old 12-10-2008, 06:03 PM   #14
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My Windows/PC often cannot access the site from Chiang Mai. My Mac has no issues.
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