Investment Giant Vanguard Buying JustInvest to Help Advisers Customize Portfolios

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Vanguard Group is buying JustInvest LLC, a smaller investing upstart that helps financial advisers build personalized portfolios.

The deal marks the first ever corporate acquisition by the world’s second-largest asset manager since Vanguard’s start in the 1970s. It brings together companies with radically different businesses: Investment giant Vanguard is best known for funds that track indexes. JustInvest provides tools for investors and advisers to build bespoke portfolios.

The purchase gives Vanguard another way to deepen ties with advisers. Vanguard oversees some $7.9 trillion in assets. Of that, about $3 trillion has already come into Vanguard through advisers, brokerages and other such middlemen.

Vanguard expects to announce its agreement to buy JustInvest as soon as Tuesday. Vanguard will gain over a dozen new employees and roughly $1 billion in assets managed by JustInvest through the purchase. It couldn’t be learned how much Vanguard is paying for the company.

Financial advisers using JustInvest’s software can, for example, quickly screen out oil polluters, take bigger positions in gun makers or automate the task of optimizing after-tax returns. Each client’s investments can then be managed separately. JustInvest’s legal name is one word, however the firm more commonly goes by Just Invest as two words.

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