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John W. Rogers Jr.: The Man Behind the Oldest Black-Owned Investment Firm in the U.S.

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Ariel Investments was founded by John W. Rogers Jr., who also serves as co-CEO. Three years after graduating from Princeton, in 1983, he founded the company, making it the oldest Black-owned financial firm in the country today.

More than $16 billion in assets are handled by Ariel Investments, the majority of which are held in mutual and independently managed accounts. Additionally, according to Forbes, the company has $1.45 billion in Project Black, a brand-new private equity fund that was the idea of his co-CEO Mellody Hobson.

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.” Ariel Investments was founded in 1986 by Rogers’ business.

Since its inception, the fund’s average annual return has been somewhat higher than both the Russell 2500 Value Index and the S&P 500, with a 10.5% average annual return.

Rogers has established Ariel Investments on stocks that have recovered from bad bear markets like the one that investors experienced in 2022. His first test was the Black Monday crash on October 19, 1987.

He convinced his clients that stocks were suddenly inexpensive and encouraged them to buy more. Forbes notes 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 including real estate investment business, CBRE Group, and newspaper publisher Gannett during the 2008 financial crisis caused the fund to incur a 48% loss before achieving a 63% gain in 2009.

In 2022, Ariel’s fund plummeted 19%, compared with a 13% decrease for its benchmark Russell 2500 Value Index. The fund, on the other hand, was up 14%, outperforming the S&P 500’s 6% gain.

Rogers’ interest in investing began at the age of 12 when his father bought him stocks instead of toys for every birthday and Christmas, and it grew during his time at Princeton.

Despite his strong interest in investing during his school years, he also played basketball for Hall of Fame coach Pete Carril and was captain of Princeton’s varsity basketball team his senior year. Coach Carril’s courtside instructions on teamwork deeply affected his views on entrepreneurship and investing.

Aside from Ariel Investments, John serves on the boards of McDonald’s, Nike, and the New York Times Company, and he is Vice-Chair of the University of Chicago’s Board of Trustees.


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