Rex Sinquefield graduated cum laude from Saint Louis University in 1967 with a Bachelor of Commerce degree. His professors urged him to pursue a graduate degree, and he was later accepted at the University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business. Under the tutelage of seminal thinkers such as Merton Miller and Eugene Fama, Sinquefield became an ardent believer in the efficiency of the market. An idea began to take hold that would guide his thinking going forward: “Markets capture new information instantly and incorporate it into their prices, so unless you have illegal insider information, there’s no way to ‘beat’ them. Instead, mimic the market with a portfolio so broad you’re insulated from individual stocks’ volatility.”
Upon completing his MBA in 1972, Sinquefield took a job at American National Bank of Chicago and put his professors’ ideas into practice. In 1973, he developed the very first S&P 500 passively managed index fund. While there is some argument about who created the very first index fund, there little doubt about who created the first one upon which the subsequent success of the model rests: it was Sinquefield. Sinquefield’s innovation, along with that of his business partner, David Booth, was to take the academic research and finance theory of the time and put it into practical application investing in small companies.
Sinquefield is best known for his influential article, coauthored with Roger G. Ibbotson, "Stocks, Bonds, Bills and Inflation," which led to the development of a seminal database in the industry for historical prices. The authors received a Graham and Dodd Award of Excellence for this article, which appeared in the Financial Analysts Journal in 1979. The publication again awarded Sinquefield the Graham and Dodd Award in 1996 for "Where Are the Gains from International Diversification?"
Retiring in 2005, Sinquefield returned with his wife, Jeanne, to Missouri to become founder and president of the Show-Me Institute, the state's only free-market think tank. The Show-Me Institute seeks to improve the quality of life for all Missourians by advancing sensible market solutions to state and local policy issues. By applying those principles to the problems facing the state, the Show-Me Institute hopes to build a Missouri with a thriving economy and a vibrant civil society—a Missouri that leads the nation in wealth, freedom, and opportunity for all.
The Sinquefields support a wide variety of organizations that are focused on music, children, and education through the Sinquefield Family Foundation. Sinquefield is a life trustee of DePaul University and serves on the boards of the Missouri Botanical Garden, Missouri History Museum, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, and Saint Louis University. He is also a member of the investment committee of the Archdiocese of Saint Louis and the recipient of numerous awards for scholarship and service, including St. Louis University’s 2008 Entrepreneurial Alumni Hall of Fame award.