Vanguard Customers Announce $17 Million in Investments Moved Out of Vanguard at Protest of Asset Manager’s Inaction on Climate Change

First Wave of Customers Move Their Money Out of Vanguard, Warning that Many Others Will Follow

Malvern, PA –  On June 14, over 50 Vanguard customers, people of faith, and climate activists gathered at the entrance to Vanguard’s headquarters while employees celebrated Vanguard’s annual Partnership Days within sight on campus. The intergenerational group was there to launch “Never Vanguard,” a collective effort to stop doing business with Vanguard because of its inaction on climate change. At the demonstration, Vanguard customers announced to live musical fanfare that they have withdrawn or are in the process of withdrawing $17 million from Vanguard accounts and funds, with that amount to grow in the coming months.

The protest was organized by Earth Quaker Action Team and Extinction Rebellion Philadelphia. 

As part of “Never Vanguard,” customers are moving their investments from the asset manager, even though some have been with Vanguard for decades – over 70 years combined for one money-moving couple. Others are pledging to not invest or work with Vanguard. 

“When I thought about investing for thirty years and reaching my retirement, I thought I was doing it in good faith. Vanguard talks about serving everyday people, but they’re not, because Vanguard is not investing in a future for all of us. So, I’m moving my money, and Vanguard, I hope you’re listening,” said Marc Brier, who had moved his money out of Vanguard that morning.  

After songs and Quaker-style silent worship, protestors attempted to deliver dozens of postcards addressed to Vanguard CEO Tim Buckley. The messages on the postcards were written a few days earlier by participants at a related demonstration in Chester, where Vanguard customers and those living on the frontlines of environmental racism jointly declared “Never Vanguard” while standing in front of the Covanta trash incinerator. Vanguard is an investor in Covanta’s parent company, EQT, and many other corporations polluting Chester, a majority-Black city where heavy-polluting industries built along the Delaware River cause high rates of asthma and cancer.

These protests are part of Vanguard S.O.S, an international campaign made up of civil society organizations, grassroots activists, and financial experts working together to demand that Vanguard chart a new course away from climate catastrophe and toward truly sustainable investing. Vanguard S.O.S. is calling on Vanguard to implement a series of solutions to reverse the detrimental impacts of its investments, including leveraging its shareholder power to influence the worst polluting companies, integrating climate justice into business decisions, and decarbonizing its investment portfolio. 

“My husband and I are removing all of our retirement savings from Vanguard,” said Amy Kietzman. “Last Wednesday, as the smoky smog from the fires up north became a reality I couldn’t ignore, I felt helpless and hopeless. But it doesn’t need to be this way. I want our hard-earned savings of a lifetime to be invested in the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible.” 

Last month, while about 100 people protested at Vanguard’s offices (16 of whom were arrested), over 700 more from around the country called the company to ask Vanguard to take meaningful climate action. This Spring, a television ad warning Vanguard’s customers of the risk that climate change poses to their retirement futures aired on cable systems and streaming platforms in Chester County – the home of Vanguard’s headquarters and where many of the company’s executives and employees live. 

Vanguard has about $270 billion invested in fossil fuels – making it the world’s biggest investor in fossil fuels. Vanguard’s climate actions lag far behind even slow-moving peers like BlackRock and State Street. According to a 2021 report, Vanguard could lose at least $3 trillion by 2050 if it fails to act on the climate crisis.

Photos from the protest can be found here