American low-cost fund giant Vanguard is now pulling in £2 million per day in the UK

For Vanguard, cash is pouring in.
For Vanguard, cash is pouring in.
Image: Reuters/Eddie Keogh
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Vanguard is a titan in the fund management industry, but the vast majority of its $4 trillion assets are in the US. As its chief investment officer Tim Buckley prepares to become CEO next year, the company is eyeing global expansion. It’s off to a strong start in the UK, taking in almost £2 million ($2.71 million) a day from British customers since it launched there in May.

Vanguard became the second-biggest global asset manager, after BlackRock, thanks to its ultra-low fees. It’s bringing a similar approach to Europe, threatening to spark a price war among asset managers. Vanguard’s direct-to-customer UK service will charge 0.15% per year, which is about a third of the fee at Hargreaves Lansdown, Britain’s biggest provider, according to The Times (paywall). Vanguard’s fees for customers are capped at £375 per year.

The Malvern, Pennsylvania-based company has been one of the biggest winners from the shift to low-cost passive investments, but its European push also features actively managed funds that are prevalent in the region.

Brokerage Liberum has projected that Vanguard will take in £5 billion per year within three years through its online offering, according to the Financial Times (paywall). That would be about 25% of the new money invested by UK retail customers every year.

At least one British institution may welcome Vanguard’s advance into the UK’s £6.9 trillion asset management industry. In June, the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority said the sector suffered from a worrying lack of competition and inflated margins. If its US record is any indication, Vanguard’s arrival in Britain could provide the shakeup the regulator is looking for.