Interview with Gus 'Mr. Index' Sauter


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Gus Sauter is the former Chief Investment Officer of Vanguard for 10 years and was instrumental in the company's venture into exchange traded funds. He talks to [i3] Insights editor Wouter Klijn about his early career, Jack Boggle's questioning of ETFs and his current role as adviser to Australian pension fund Sunsuper. Podcast overview Gus Sauter: 1:00 You started a bank at age 8, is that true? 3:00 Then a goldmine in your 20s? 4:20 Gold is an Armageddon type of investment; if the world collapses, gold is probably going to be fine 5:50 My first stock 6:30 I’ve had the active vs passive debate literally thousands of times and ‘no’ I’m not tired of it. 7:00 Passive is a good investment strategy, but it is never going to be top performing in any given year 9:00 I’m not totally on board with the efficient market hypothesis 10:00 Why indexing works 12:00 But does the market capitalisation method work in fixed income, where you skew to the most in debt entity? 14:00 Over time, markets have become more efficient, compared to the 1980s. 15:00 Did Jack Boggle cut his holiday short to find out why you were adopting ETFs? 16:00 Jack disagreed on ETFs 17:00 The crisis of 1987, and the subsequent redemptions from mutual funds, shaped my thinking on ETFs 19:30 Is there more institutional takeup of ETFs in the US, than there is in Australia? 20:00 ETFs are not a product; they are a way to distribute index funds. 21:00 Not a fan of smart beta 27:00 You don’t think there is necessarily a correlation between GDP growth and stock market returns? 28:30 You can take a great firm and make it a lousy investment by overpaying for it and visa versa 31:30 Working with Sunsuper 33:00 Do you see a lot of similarities or differences between the issues that investors in the US and Australia grapple with? 35:00 Should pension funds in Australia be more dynamic in their asset allocation? 37:30 What have you learned from past crises? 42:00 Jack said: “One day indexing is going to be really big and we’ll have US$ 10bn in assets” We now have US$ 4 trillion.

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