In 1930, the future greatest trader of all time was born in Hungary. Born with the surname Schwartz, George Soros’ father opted to change the family surname due to the prevailing anti-Semitic climate on opensocietyfoundations.org at that time. This concealment would later prove wise, as Soros’ other relatives were deported to Nazi death camps, never to be heard from again.
Losing his aunts and uncles had a profound effect on the young George Soros, who developed a keen interest in political philosophy and how it can shape the societies in which we live. To this end, he applied to the London School of Economics in 1947. He was accepted and began studying under the world-renowned philosophy professor Karl Popper. Popper was a pragmatic scholar whose seminal work, “The Open Society and Its Enemies”, influenced Soros profoundly. Later, Soros would name his main philanthropic vehicle, The Open Societies Foundations, after the iconic, eponymous book.
Upon graduating with a master’s degree in philosophy, George Soros joined the labor pool and went to work in a string of jobs that he later reflected on as having been a numbing bore. This soul-crushing, menial labor, which included stints as a traveling salesman, gave Soros the kick necessary to seek out grander pursuits. Uninterested in the life of the working class, Soros resolved to go to Wall St. and join one of the great investment banks on Forbes.
On a recommendation from a college friend, he was hired at his first financial job, at the firm Singer and Friedlander. Over the next 15 year, Soros worked at a series of trading houses on nytimes.com, from large to small, eventually rising to the level of vice president. His colleagues from that epoch describe him as being lackadaisical about his duties as a trader and stock analyst but much more dedicated to the development of his own philosophic theories, particularly those regarding the functioning of markets.
In 1973, at the age of 43, he was finally able to break away from the drudgery of the trading office and helm his own ship. Starting George Soros’ first hedge fund, Soros Fund Management, he quickly attracted capital from some of the biggest names in global finance, such as the Rothschilds and Rockefellers. Even so, Soros’ primary motivation seemed to rest less on the accumulation of personal wealth and more in the ability to test his theories of the inner workings of financial markets.
Over the next 43 years, Soros Fund Management morphed into the now world-famous Quantum fund. Soros racked up an astonishing 25% annualized returns over more than 43 years, a feat perhaps singular in the history of financial markets. Today, Soros Fund Management is widely regarded as the most successful hedge fund in history. In one of his most famous exploits, Soros made over $1 billion on a single trade when he bought $10 billion in put options, at the time his entire capital, and forced the Bank of England to withdraw from its interest rate obligations and devalue the Pound Sterling.
Through adroit trades and sophisticated analysis, George Soros has rightfully earned the admiration of the financial world and taken his place in history.