Meet the biggest investors in history and see the path taken by them.
Of course, everyone is interested in finding the mutual fund or strategy that will produce the best long-term annual returns. But while the performance of funds tends to rise and fall, often with changes in the direction of the financial markets, there is a small elite group of individuals who have achieved almost supernatural successes in investing.
Below is a list of the biggest investors in history. Many are names you probably already know. But others may surprise you. I have not tried to rank these investors, but rather to provide a list of people who have achieved exceptional investment successes through a variety of investment strategies and philosophies
In the meantime, it is worth seeking out and studying some of these people. Most of your success seems to result from a commitment to your investment beliefs. Maybe that’s what the rest of us need to focus on.
The list of the biggest investors
- Benjamin Graham
Benjamin Graham is considered the father of value investing. For at least a decade, value investing has been considered the most successful long-term investment strategy. It is the process of buying shares in fundamentally strong companies with promising future prospects that investors overlook. It offers a real opportunity to find high-performance companies before the crowd. Value investing is a strategy used by several other investors on this list.
Though it has fallen out of favor over the past decade, value investing has proven to be a great success for Graham. His investment firm generated annualized returns of about 20% between 1936 and 1956, well above general market returns. Graham is the author of two of the most popular books in investment history, Security Analysis and The Smart Investor.
- Jack Bogle
Jack Bogle is the personification of the term investment legend. He was the founder of Vanguard Group, a $7.1 trillion investment firm that is the world’s largest provider of mutual funds and the second largest provider of exchange-traded funds.
But the way Vanguard came about may be Bogle’s biggest contribution to the investment world. While studying at Princeton University, Bogle conducted a study that found that most mutual funds made no more money than popular stock market indices. In addition, he found that the fees associated with these mutual funds caused them to outperform the market.
Many years later, Bogle launched the first performance-linked index fund of the S&P 500. That was in 1976, and the fund is now called the Vanguard 500 Index Fund (VFIAX). And with nearly $740 billion in assets under management, it is the largest S&P 500 index fund in the industry. Bogle literally revolutionized the investment universe with the development of index funds. Due to their low cost and passive nature, they are now common in individual investor portfolios across the world and are the mainstay of robotic advisor portfolios.
- John Templeton
John Templeton may no longer be a household name among investors, but he is another true industry legend. He is the founder of Templeton Growth Fund, where he pioneered the diversification of global investments. (The fund is now part of the $1.4 trillion Franklin Templeton company.)
Born in 1912, he started building his fortune during the Great Depression of the 1930s. As stock prices fell, Templeton saw this as an opportunity. When World War II broke out in 1939, he borrowed money and bought 100 shares of each company listed on the New York Stock Exchange, which sold for less than $1 a share. He bought shares in a total of 104 companies, including 34 that were in bankruptcy.
When World War II ended the Depression and stock prices plummeted, Templeton’s fortunes multiplied. Only four of the Templeton companies invested in depreciation.
More about the biggest investors
- Peter Lynch
In 1980, without a doubt Peter Lynch was the greatest investor in history. He was at the top of investments managing Fidelity Investments ‘Magellan Fund’, the most powerful mutual fund at the time.
And it’s not a surprise. During his 13-year stint at Magellan, Lynch achieved an average annual return of 29%, nearly doubling the return of the S&P 500. The fund outperformed 99.5% of competing funds in the last five years it managed it. When Lynch took over the fund, it managed just $18 million in assets. But when it was launched in 1990, the fund had grown to $14 billion.
Lynch was an advocate of value investing, the popular investment strategy founded by Benjamin Graham. But while Graham may have introduced the concept, Lynch played it perfectly. Lynch was also a bestselling author with his 1989 book, One Up on Wall Street, and coined the terms Invest In What You Know and Ten Bagger (a stock that gives 10 to 1 or more returns).
Like some of the other investment geniuses on this list, Peter Lynch came from humble beginnings. His father died when he was 10 years old, forcing his mother to work to support the family. Lynch himself worked as a golf caddy to support his family. It was the money he earned from this job that allowed him to buy his first shares while studying. And yes, in the end it was a ten.
- Warren Buffet
As the greatest investor of all time, Warren Buffett can easily be the most popular choice on many people’s list. After all, it’s hard to argue with a man who comes from a humble background and has a fortune in excess of $100 billion. Today he is one of the richest people in the world and sometimes the richest. So popular on Wall Street and in the financial media that it’s called the Omaha Oracle.
Buffet is the chairman and largest shareholder of Berkshire Hathaway, an $873 billion national holding company also based in Omaha. Unlike traditional mutual funds, Berkshire Hathaway holds important equity positions in large corporations, along with direct management of operations. Buffett owns a 16.45% interest in Berkshire Hathaway.
Buffett started out as an investment salesman, but soon began several commercial partnerships. He eventually began working at Benjamin Graham’s partnership, but then formed his own – Buffett Partnership, LTD – after Graham retired and closed his company.
Buffett met Charlie Munger in 1959 and, in 1965, began buying Berkshire Hathaway stock and taking control of the company. Berkshire Hathaway was originally a textile company, but Buffett moved into insurance, including insurance giant Geico.
While Buffett’s annual returns have fallen in recent years, his long-term track record is indisputable. According to MarketWatch, Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway shares have averaged 18.3% a year since 1965 — compared with 10.2% for the S&P 500.
Other names that occupy the position of biggest investors
- Charlie Munger
Charlie Munger is Warren Buffett’s partner in Berkshire Hathaway’s crime. At the tender age of 97, he remains the company’s vice president and is considered Buffett’s closest partner. He is also a director of Costco and president of the Daily Journal Corporation.
Like Buffett, Charlie Munger is a proud product of the state of Nebraska. Born and raised in Omaha, Munger came to Berkshire Hathaway indirectly. He was president of Westco Financial Corporation, which eventually became a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway.
Along with Berkshire Hathaway, Monger is a legend of owning investments. During the period 1962 to 1975, when the Dow Jones industry average annual average return was 5%, Monger’s own investment partnership achieved an average annual return of 19.8%.
Despite his affiliation with the more popular Warren Buffett and his impressive investment track record over the years, Charlie Munger’s estimated net worth is estimated to be less than $2 billion. This may be in part due to the fact that Monger is a large donor to several charities and claims to have already donated a significant amount to his children.
- Nassim Taleb
Nassim Taleb is an unusual candidate for this list because he is not only one of history’s unconventional investors, he is also a statistician and mathematics essayist. But on the investment side, one of its biggest contributions is to champion what is known as a cash investment strategy.
The bar strategy is the opposite of the typical balanced portfolio. Rather than investing 100% in medium risk/reward assets like stocks and bonds, the strategy encourages you to reward 90% of your portfolio in super safe investments like cash and short-term US Treasury bonds and the 10% remaining at high risk / assets.
How good would it be if you could invest equal allocations in 11 funds managed by each of these investors? Unfortunately, they generally do not make funds available to the public, but rather focus on institutions and large investors.
This is because the type of investment they make is also high risk. If you’re like most investors, you want to avoid high risks. But maybe – just maybe – you could consider investing a small portion of your portfolio, as some of these investment geniuses did.
Are you ready to invest?