Paul Jakubowski headshot

Overcoming the challenges of market uncertainty

February 6, 2023

Vanguard executive focuses on clients, employees while weathering market volatility

Keep the client at the center.

This guiding principle has served him well in almost 23 years at Vanguard, said Paul Jakubowski, ’00, a principal and head of Financial Planning and Analysis and Strategic Services. Never more so than during the past year of market volatility.

Based just outside Philadelphia, Vanguard is the world’s largest provider of mutual funds and second largest provider of exchange-traded funds. It differs from other investment firms in that it is owned by its clients, not by stockholders, Jakubowski said.

“We have a duty to make good decisions with our clients’ money, because they own the funds we manage,” he said. “Flexibility and maintaining a long-term perspective have been key in the last year when markets have been down and inflation up. My FP&A and Strategic Services department led the effort to manage expenses across all divisions. We ended the year well and without sacrificing business outcomes, largely due to our dedicated, mission-aligned crew.”

No small feat considering Jakubowski assumed his current finance position in February 2021, after holding three principal roles on the investment side of the house. As head of FP&A and Strategic Services, he oversees teams responsible for Vanguard’s real estate and facilities, procurement, finance technology, financial planning and analysis, and the pricing of mutual funds and exchange-traded funds.

Building trusting relationships with both clients and crew—Vanguard’s term for employees—has been key to his success, said the University of Richmond alumnus, who studied business administration with a finance concentration and leadership studies as an undergraduate.

“Leadership is all about people,” he said. “You have to hire, empower, and develop really good people and create an atmosphere where they can be happy and successful. Leaders also have to adapt in a constantly changing world.”

Jakubowski has excelled at adapting while rising through the ranks at Vanguard. He started as an analyst and statistician right out of college, then became a trader, then a portfolio manager. During the last dozen years, he has held four principal roles throughout the firm. Along the way, and with Vanguard’s support, he earned an MBA from Villanova University and completed two Harvard Business School Executive Education programs.

“Vanguard grooms leaders by developing their expertise in different areas,” he said. “This ties into my experience at the Jepson School of Leadership Studies, where I learned to be adaptable and to lead others. At the Robins School of Business, I pursued the certified financial analyst track and received a scholarship to take Level 1 of the CFA exam as a senior—which was unheard of. When I joined Vanguard at age 21, I had a head start on my professional career thanks to my time at the University of Richmond.

“I love Vanguard. As someone who takes goals and objectives very seriously, I also love the accountability and transparency in the finance and investment industry. The scoreboard doesn’t lie.”

Growing up, Jakubowski said he never could have imagined becoming a principal at a company that manages $7.2 trillion in global assets.

“Richmond changed my life.”