Just like every other industry of our modern life, the financial sector has its role models and superstars – the kind of success stories that wannabe investors dream of. Since the inception of entrepreneurship, there have been a ton of men and women that have managed to put small amounts of capital into projects that end up ballooning into several times their original investments.
We always want to know how our heroes worked their way up from the bottom. When it comes to investing, we want to know how the biggest players got to where they are now – how we can imitate their techniques to grow our own piles of cash. Sadly, Warren Buffett-level success won’t reach the vast majority of our lives – but that can’t stop us from taking as much inspiration from some of the top investors in history. Here are the ten most legendary investors who have ever graced this planet.
“Finding the best person or the best organization to invest your money is one of the most important financial decisions you’ll ever make.”
Age: 74 , Cofounder of PIMCO
Assets Under Management (AUM): $1.75 trillion
Image source: twitter
This heavy-hitter is known as “the King of Bonds” – referring to his wild success in fixed-income investments that has led to him becoming known as one of the best investors of all time. Bill Gross founded a little investment management company called PIMCO, which currently has $1.77 trillion in assets under management (AUM). At one point in time, Mr. Gross was the biggest bond fund manager (by value) at one point in time, and PIMCO actually sunk when he moved to work for Janus Capital Group back in 2014.
Bill Gross is a different kind of big-time investor, and warns would-be capitalists against investing in “zombie corporations” – by putting money into the real economy with corporations that you feel good about both ethically and financially. He also stressed diversification and taking chances that are rooted in exhaustive research, as well as maintaining enough liquid cash on the side.
“Your investor’s edge is not something you get from Wall Street experts. It’s something you already have. You can outperform the experts if you use your edge by investing in companies or industries you already understand.”
Age: 74 , Managed Fidelity Investments
Assets Under Management (AUM): $2.4 trillion
Image source: Twitter
When it comes to playing it safe, index funds that encapsulate the market as a whole have been very solid investments over the years. For decades, diversified portfolios have been fattening up a lot of people’s retirement funds – thanks to the overall global growth that we’ve witnessed (interrupted by some sporadic recessions). The S&P500 Index has done very well, and only some of the most talented investors around have managed to generate better returns – and you can include Peter Lynch in that list.
Lynch is known mostly from his management of the Fidelity Magellan fund, where he beat the S&P500’s annual growth for 11 of the 13 years that he was there (up until 1990). He consistently achieved more than double the index’s yearly returns and helped lift the organization’s assets from $18 million to $14 billion in value. This legendary investor coined the phrase “invest in what you know” – which I bet you’ve heard before!
“We simply attempt to be fearful when others are greedy and to be greedy only when others are fearful.”
Age: 87 , CEO of Berkshire Hathaway
Assets Under Management (AUM): $702.1 billion
Twitter: @WarrenBuffett (1.4 m followers)
Image source: wikimedia
This is a name that you’ve certainly heard before: Warren Buffett. Across the globe, he is widely known as being the most successful investor in history – mostly because of the small amount of money he started out with (he is currently worth close to $85 billion). Mr. Buffett is referenced constantly in all sorts of financial publications, and investor hopefuls take his advice extremely seriously.
If you open up the front pages of news sites like Business Insider or Forbes, you are likely to see a link with Buffett’s name mentioned – and there is a reason for that. He heads Berkshire Hathaway, and literally makes markets move wildly in either direction by just making a simple comment. His students have learned to understand the value of companies by paying attention to earnings conference calls and understanding their balance sheets – as well as only evaluating the price of a share after properly having confidence in the organization.
John “Jack” Bogle
“The grim irony of investing is that we investors as a group not only don’t get what we pay for, we get precisely what we don’t pay for.”
Age: 89 , Founded The Vanguard Group
Assets Under Management (AUM): $5.1 trillion
Image source: wikimedia
This investor is an absolute legend in that he founded a company that is essentially a household institution at this point in time: The Vanguard Group. Most Americans at least recognize this name as a source of low-cost mutual fund investments, but John “Jack” Bogle is known for so much more than that. In fact, Fortune magazine named him as one of the “four investment giants of the 20th century” back in 1999, and his book “Common Sense on Mutual Funds: New Imperatives for the Intelligent Investor” is a widely-read classic that’s highly regarded in the investment community.
Bogle is perhaps most noted for founding the first index mutual fund that was available to the general public – which happened in 1976 when he founded the Vanguard Investment Trust, which would later become the Vanguard 500 Index Fund.
“Value investing means really asking what are the best values, and not assuming that because something looks expensive that it is, or assuming that because a stock is down in price and trades at low multiples that it is a bargain”
Age: 68 , former Chief Investing Officer of Legg Mason Capital Management
Assets Under Management (AUM): $752.3 billion
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One short phrase comes to mind when one thinks of Bill Miller: track record. When it comes to winning streaks, Mr. Miller is one of the most widely-known successes in the investment community. For 15 solid years, between 1991 and 2005, his Legg Mason Value Trust beat the S&P500’s yearly return. Back in 1999, he was named the “Fund Manager of the Decade” by Morningstar.com.
Miller successfully grew his fund from a measly $750 million to over $20 billion (assets under management) up until 2006. Even last year he was cranking out similar success: his Opportunity Trust beat the S&P500 by nearly double at certain points last year. He is considered to be a value investor, but heavily believes that any stock has the potential to be a value stock “if it trades at a discount to its intrinsic value.”
Hui Ka Yan
“We should focus investment on youth development.”
Age: 59, Founded Evergrande Real Estate Group
Assets Under Management (AUM): $275 billion
Moving to a more modern investing giant, let’s take a trip to China to focus on one of the richest people in the entire East Asian nation: Hui Ka Yan (Xu Jiayin in Mandarin). Currently worth over $30 billion USD, he is the chairman and largest shareholder of China Evergrande Group – a massively successful Chinese property develop that has constructed over 500 projects in 180 Chinese cities.
Hui Ka Yan generated unbelievable profits from both residential and office building projects, and a year ago it boosted its share price by a staggering 469%. He was the richest man in China last year, and in 2017 he was the leader of the 26% overall boost in the mainland’s top 400 fortunes. Now, he has slipped to 3rd place – which still isn’t too shabby at all when you think about it.
“In the short run, the market is a voting machine but in the long run, it is a weighing machine.”
Lived: 1894-1976 , Founded Graham-Newman Partnership
Mostly known for his academic work
Image source: wikimedia
Known as the “Father of Modern Investing,” Benjamin Graham was actually a mentor of Warren Buffett’s. In fact, he is the very investor that is credited with coming up with the concept of “value investing,” which essentially boils down to the idea that we should buy securities that are currently underpriced as to maximize the profit that you can generate when they become fully-realized and profitable organizations.
Graham’s uber-renowned neoclassical investing texts, Security Analysis and The Intelligent Investor are historically important in the world of investing – focusing on investor psychology, concentrated diversification, activist investing and minimal debt. Numerous students of Grahams have garnered incredible success, like Buffett, Irving Kahn, Walter J. Schloss and William J. Ruane.
“In takeovers, the metaphor is war. The secret is reserves. You must have reserves stretched way out ahead. You have to know that you could buy the company and not be stretched.”
Age: 82 , Founder of Icahn Enterprises
Assets Under Management (AUM): $33.3 billion
Twitter: @Carl_C_Icahn (354k followers)
Carl Icahn built his reputation as what’s called a corporate raider – an investor who infiltrates a mismanaged company’s board of directors by purchasing enough shares to get voting power. Successful raiders then use their leverage to rearrange the organization in an attempt to make it profitable, or just strip their assets – which Icahn famously did after his hostile takeover of the American Airline TWA back in the 80s.
Icahn was the 26th richest person on the Forbes 400 last year, not to mention the 5th richest hedge fund manager. He also very briefly worked with the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, as a Special Advisor on Regulatory Reform, for a brief stint in 2017. He is currently worth double-digit billions. This legendary corporate raider has his successful finger prints on conglomerates like Yahoo, Time Warner and Blockbuster Video too.
“It’s waiting that helps you as an investor, and a lot of people just can’t stand to wait. If you didn’t get the deferred-gratification gene, you’ve got to work very hard to overcome that.”
Age: 94 , Vice Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway
Assets Under Management (AUM): $702.1 billion
Image source: flickr
Here’s another highly successful investor that was mentored by the “Father of Modern Investing,” Benjamin Graham. His name is Charlie Munger, and he is currently Vice Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway – which is currently the 8th-largest private employer in the United States. The CEO of the organization, Warren Buffett, has often described Munger as his partner.
Apart from Berkshire Hathaway fame, Mr. Munger is held in high regard for his success as chairman of Wesco Financial Corporation – a diversified financial institution that he led from 1984 to 2011. He focuses his strategy on investing in a concentration of high-quality companies with products or services he personally believes in. Charlie is also lauded by the investing community for his philanthropic efforts – having donated hundreds of millions to universities around the country, both public and private institutions.
“Never is there a better time to buy a stock than when a basicallysound company, for whatever reason, temporarily falls out of favor with the investment community.”
Age: 92 , Founder of Investment Quality Trends
Known for academic work
Image source: iqtrends
While it has, indeed, undergone a very positive-trending evolution in recent years, the investing world was traditionally very much a boy’s club – so it’s refreshing to add a woman investing legend to this list. Geraldine Weiss is known as the “Queen of Blue-Chip Dividends”, having invented a quite genius strategy for investing. While Warren Buffett’s focused on his four principles of investing as a checklist for picking stocks, Weiss only focused on one single metric – which would have generated more profit for Buffett had he followed her game plan.
Even more amazing: She used the name G. Weiss for about a decade before revealing she was a woman, due to the initial rejection her work faced.
She focused on simply dividend yield, buying stocks when they are within 10% of their highest dividend yield and unload them when they get within 10% of their lowest. While her beginnings in investing were heavily influenced by Benjamin Graham’s 10-point checklist, she departed with her own technique and really became successful when she embraced her own instincts. Weiss will always be a true investing legend, and a role model for women investors back in the day.