John W. Rogers Jr. is the founder and co-CEO of Ariel Investments. He started the firm in 1983, three years after graduating from Princeton; and now, forty years later, his company is the oldest Black-owned investment firm in the U.S.
Ariel Investments manages more than $16 billion in assets, most of them in mutual accounts and separately managed accounts. Additionally, the firm has about $1.45 billion in a new private equity fund dubbed, Project Black, which is the brainchild of his co-CEO, Mellody Hobson, according to Forbes.
The platform adds that the new fund aims to buy “existing mid-size businesses and install Black and Latino executives who can build them into top-tier suppliers to the S&P 500.” Rogers’s firm launched Ariel Investments in 1986.
Since the fund was launched, its average annual return has been slightly better than both the Russell 2500 Value Index and the S&P 500; it has posted a 10.5% average annual return.
Rogers has built Ariel Investments on stocks recovering from ugly bear markets like the type investors endured in 2022. His first test was the crash on October 19, 1987, known as Black Monday.
He convinced his clients that stocks were suddenly cheap and encouraged them to buy more. Forbes reports that Ariel Investments outperformed with double-digit gains in 1987. Also, Ariel came off the dot-com bust in the year 2000, gaining 29% that year and 14% in 2001.
His bet on stocks like real estate investment firm, CBRE Group, and newspaper publisher Gannett during the 2008 financial crisis caused the fund to suffer a 48% loss before making a 63% gain in 2009.
In 2022, Ariel’s fund fell 19%, compared with a 13% drop for its benchmark Russell 2500 Value Index. However, the fund was up 14%, outperforming the S&P 500’s 6% gain.
Rogers developed his passion for investment at age 12 when his father bought him stocks instead of toys for every birthday and Christmas, and developed further when he attended Princeton.
Although he had a strong passion for investment during his schooling days, he also played basketball under Hall of Fame coach, Pete Carril, and was captain of Princeton’s varsity basketball team in his senior year. Coach Carril’s courtside lessons on teamwork profoundly shaped his views on entrepreneurship and investing.
Aside from Ariel Investments, John is also a board member of McDonald’s, Nike, and the New York Times Company, and serves as Vice-chair of the board of trustees at the University of Chicago.