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Friday, January 16, 2015

DFA: the Apple to Vanguard's Google?

News summary by MFWire's editors

If Vanguard is the mutual fund industry's Google (or Amazon), practically giving away most of what it does to gain ever-increasing market share, then Dimensional Fund Advisors [profile] is the industry's Apple, more concerned about offering premium products than about gaining massive market share.

Charles Stein of Bloomberg penned a long profile of the quiet, Austin-based, quasi-indexing giant. Bloomberg of course talked to DFA chairman and co-CEO David Booth. David Butler, head of global financial advisor services, also offers a quote or two. Linda York of Cogent and Alex Bryan of Morningstar both weigh in, as do a handful of DFA's Kool-Aid-drinking advisors. And the article also mentions the importance to DFA of the work of Eugene Fama (a Nobel prize-winning economist) and Kenneth French (Fama's research partner).

Somehow Bloomberg calls DFA "small". I guess $381 billion is small compared to Vanguard's $3 trillion.

On the flip side, there are several notable omissions from the article. Bloomberg notes that Robert Merton (another Nobel Prize-winning economist) "is involved in designing products for the company," without mentioning what those are. As reported by our sister publication, 401kWire, DFA's Michael Lane is using Merton's theories for a retirement product which DFA is partnering with TIAA-CREF on.

Also unmentioned in the Bloomberg piece: Eduardo Repetto, DFA's other co-CEO, who used to be a rocket scientist. Booth does tell the pub that he's refused buyout and IPO offers, insisting that "the next generation of leadership is in place." 

Edited by: Neil Anderson, Managing Editor

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