List of the Most Famous Traders of All Time: Being a successful part of the world of trading already sets you apart from the rest. But have you ever wondered what it would be like to be one of the very best traders in the world? Don’t worry we have come up with a list of the greatest traders of all time that you’d probably have to take on to even contend for the title.
Top 5 Greatest Traders of All Time
1. George Soros
Billionaire George Soros aka “the king of Forex trading” or the “The Man Who Broke the Bank of England” is, without doubt, the greatest trader. But growing up a Jew in the midst of WW2 and due to the struggles he went through no one would have predicted his rise.
Born Gyorgy Schwartz, his family had their names changed to survive the way and fly under the Nazi radar. Making to England Soros worked jobs as a waiter or railway porter before he graduated from the London School of Economics. This finally paved the way for him into the world of banking when he got a job at Singer and Friedlander as a merchant banker.
Thanks to his father’s help he moved to the US to work at a Wall Street Brokerage firm. After several successful stints helping him move up the ladder at various firms he decided to establish his own hedge fund in 1970 called “Quantum”.
It is here where Soros rose to fame. His most important trade came in 1990 when he decided to short the British Pound. A couple of years before the trade took place Quantum kept buying the British Pound and accumulated 3.9 billion pounds. In addition to this Soros borrowed to bring the total pound holdings of the fund to 5.5 billion pounds.
On September 9 the pound began to fall. This prompted Soros to short all 5.5 billion pounds against the German Mark on September 16 – the day we now know as Black Wednesday. Soror managed to make $1 billion in a single day due to this trade. This caught the Bank of England in a corner forcing them to withdraw from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism.
This earned him the title of “The Man who Broke the Bank of England”.
Soros used a similar strategy during the ASEAN financial crisis of 1997. Here Soros targeted the Indonesian, Philippines, and Singaporean currencies. The crisis financially put the countries back 15 years.
Apart from his trading success, Soros is known for his philanthropy. Although he is currently worth $8.6 billion Soros has donated over 80% of his wealth.
2. Jesse Livermore
If there’s another movie ever made on a trader it should be based on the story of Jesse Livermore. Born in 1877, Livermore ran away from home to escape the life of farming which he was otherwise destined for.
Once he made it to Boston he began posting quotes for a stockbroker as a 15-year-old. It was here that Livermore bought his first share and earned a profit of $3.12 with a capital of just $5. He soon started making more money trading stocks than what he was paid. This prompted him to leave his job and begin placing leveraged bets at stock prices. Jesse Livermore was soo good at his trades that he was eventually banned from Bucket Shops where he placed his bets.
He then began trading at Wall Street but faced huge losses. These however were not due to any mistake of his own but because the ticker tape was not updated fast enough. He finally got a break at the age of 24 when he converted $10,000 into $500,000. By the age of 30 Livermore was making a million a day during the Panic of 1907.
Livermore was now at the top of his game which made him a well-known elite but despite this, he went bankrupt twice by 1915.
Following WW1 Livermore began buying cotton in order to gain control of the market. He had to be stopped by the then US President Woodrow Wilson. It was on Woodrow’s request that Livermore refrained from further acting on cotton.
“To see if I could, Mr. President.”
This famous quote came into being when President Woodrow inquired Livermore why he was trying to corner the cotton market. What set him truly apart was the crash of 1929. It was here when market crashes were not even known about, Livermore took huge short positions taking his fortunes to $100 million. This would have made him a billionaire today. This earned him the title “The Great Bear of Wall Street.”
What truly set him apart was his ability to bounce back to great fortunes despite facing bankruptcies 3 times in his life. Jesse Livermore however didn’t survive his third bankruptcy and died after committing suicide.
3. Paul Tudor Jones
Paul Tudor Jones was one of the world’s leading hedge fund managers. Jones began his trading career as a clerk working for the biggest cotton merchant – Eli Tullis in the 1970s. Unknown to many Jones was fired by Tullis after he fell asleep at his desk after a night of partying.
Jones found his own hedge fund in 1980 named Tudor Futures Fund. What’s astonishing to this day is that the fund managed to earn 100% returns during its first 5 years. What set him apart was when he shorted a couple of stocks before the 1987 stock market crash. This earned him around $100 million. This also earned him the nickname Black Monday Prophet.
Five years post this Jones went on to become the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Today Jones is worth over $5 billion and is also known for his philanthropic works through the Robin Hood Foundation.
4. Jim Simons
Known as the “World’s smartest billionaire” or “Quant King”, Jim Simons is clearly a class apart on Wall Street. Simons, a well-regarded mathematician for his Chern-Simons theory also broke Russian codes during the Cold War.
Simons didn’t enter the stock market until his late thirties. What set him apart from the rest as he was one of the pioneers to trade based on quant, data analysis, and pattern recognition. After setting up the hedge fund Renaissance Technologies, Simons made it his mission to avoid Wall Street brains at all costs by hiring only scientists and mathematicians.
From 1994 to 2014 Renaissance Technologies Medallion fund gave a whopping 71.8% return. You must be wondering why you haven’t heard of the Medallion fund. This is probably because Simons closed the fund to all outsiders except employees of the company in 2005.
Simons is today worth $24.6 billion making him one of the most successful and greatest traders of all time.
5. Steve Cohen
Billionaire Steve Cohen came from an economics and poker background. He entered the stock market in 1978 after securing a job at the investment banking firm Gruntal. Cohen started off by making $8,000 on his first day and eventually moved on to make $100,000 per day for the firm.
Cohen left Gruntal in 1992 and opened his own hedge fund – SAC Capital Partners. It was here that Cohen became known for his ability to make money under any market condition. By 2011 Cohen was the 35th richest person in the US according to Forbes. Despite having a net worth of $14 billion, Cohen still works at his firm. It is reported that almost 15% of his company’s profits are due to operations performed by him.
What do you think about our list of the greatest traders of all time? Let us know in the comments the names you feel should be on this list. You might also be interested to know about the world’s greatest fund. Happy Trading!
Aron, Bachelors in Commerce from Mangalore University, entered the world of Equity research to explore his interests in financial markets. Outside of work, you can catch him binging on a show, supporting RCB, and dreaming of visiting Kasol soon. He also believes that eating kid’s ice-cream is the best way to teach them taxes.
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