July 18, 2017

18 Rags to Riches Trading Stories

Many professional traders, appear to have it very easy – they wear nice clothes and live in nice houses, but many of these people have come from nothing and made their millions through selective and successful trades.

We are going to look at some of the most successful rags to riches stories from traders who are worth millions of dollars now, but who have come from very little.

John Paulson

John Paulson came from incredibly humble beginnings. His father, Alfred was orphaned at a young age, and his mother was the daughter of foreign immigrants who moved to New York City. Although he had a stable upbringing, he was no means privileged, yet now has a net worth of $11.2 billion!

His luck changed dramatically in 2007, when he earned $3.7 billion in one single year, when he turned into a financial legend by using credit default swaps to effectively bet against the US subprime mortgage lending market.

Steven Cohen

Steven Cohen had always had a keen interest in taking risks, and used to play poker throughout his time at high school. He believed that risks would either make you or break you. Thankfully for him, they made him, and he now has a net worth of $13billion.

He used his tuition money to open his first brokerage account, and when he was 22 years old, he got a job as a junior trader for Gruntal and Co where he made $8,000 on his first day! It was from this point onwards that he started being recognised as a successful trader.

Ken Griffin

Ken Griffin began investing when he was a freshman at Harvard University, after he became inspired from reading a Forbes magazine article. It was during his second year that he started making more money, after he started a hedge fund that focused on convertible bond arbitrage. He used money from his friends and family, and some from his grandmother to capitalise this fund.

His strategy helped him to preserve his funds even during the stock market crash in 1987, and it was this early success that enabled him to launch a second fund, resulting in him managing over $1million. Despite this success, he still managed to graduate in 1989 with a degree in finance, before going on to make billions in subsequent years.

Chris Gardner

Chris Gardner came from very humble beginnings – he was a single, destitute dad, without a roof over his head. He did have a trainee job, but was only earning $12,000 a year. He later on competed with peers for a full-time role within the company, which he managed to secure.

It was this success that spurred him on, and he is now a CEO of his own leading stock brokerage firm, Gardner Rich & Co, and is not only worth millions, but is one of the most respected people on Wall Street. He was even the subject and inspiration of the blockbuster film, ‘The Pursuit of Happyness’.

George Soros

George Soros is one of the most well known and respected people within the trading community, and is known as the man who broke the Bank of England. Despite being worth a lot of money now, he has not always had a luxurious life, and started out growing up in a Jewish neighbourhood in Budapest, during Nazi Germany.

He moved to London to continue his studies at the London School of Economics; however, worked as a waiter and a porter at a railway station throughout. After he graduated, he went to work for Singer and Friedlander, and thanks to his successful financial career now has an estimated net worth of more than $24billion.  

Glen Dubin

Glenn Dubin had a very modest upbringing, but has worked hard and the CEO and co-founder of Highbridge Capital Management, who is worth a shy $2billion! He grew up in Manhattan in a working-class neighbourhood, where his father worked as a taxi driver and his mother was an admin at a local hospital.

He went on to work hard at his local school, before gaining his economics degree from Stony Brook University. It was shortly after this that his set up his company with his childhood friend, who he met at a local park and just went from success to success.

Lloyd Blankfein

Lloyd Blankfein is better known as the CEO of Goldman Sachs, which is a far cry from his very humble beginnings, where he lived in the Bronx, and shared a bedroom with his grandmother. Growing up, he worked at the concessions stand at the Yankee stadium, and as a lifeguard to earn some money, and worked hard to earn himself a Harvard scholarship.

He attended Harvard Law School, and even became a practising barrister, before he made a career change, and focused on investment banking. It is from here that he has worked his way up the chain, to become a very successful CEO.

Leon Cooperman

Despite being work $3.7billion now, Leon Cooperman grew up in the Bronx, after both of his parent had immigrated the US. He was the first person in his family to graduate, and left Columbia University with an MBA. He left college broker with student debts, and had a young, six-month-old baby to look after.

He then went to work for Goldman Sachs for twenty-five years, but left there and started his own hedge fund, and the rest is history. 

Sheldon Adelson

Despite only being born in 1933, and growing up in very humble beginnings, Sheldon Adelson has a net worth of approximately $28.5billion. Both of his parents were Ukrainian-Jewish immigrants, and although he had a very loved childhood, he was not from a privileged family. He enrolled at City College of New York, but did not graduate, and dropped out half way through.

Despite dropping out of college, he went on to be the founder and CEO of Las Vegas Sands, which is a highly successful American casino and resort and how he came about making his billions.

Harold Simmons

Harold Simmons is very well known these days, and has a net worth of approximately $10billion. He has made his billions from becoming a highly successful buyout investor, which is such a long way from the life he had growing up.

He was born in 1931, and was born and raised in Texas. Perhaps what is most surprising though is that the home he grew up in could be better described as a ‘shack’ that lacked basic amenities such as plumbing or electricity.

Howard Schultz

Howard Schultz now has a net worth of $2billion and is currently the CEO of popular coffee shop, Starbucks. He has not always had a privileged life though, and has worked hard to get where he is today.

He was born in 1953, and grew up in an under deprived Brooklyn in their housing projects scheme. Although he did attend college, he was admitted to Northern Michigan University on a football scholarship.

Wang Wei

Wang Wei is an incredibly successful chairman of SF Holding, which is China’s equivalent of FedEx. He is worth approximately $27billion and is one of the richest men in China. He has done this, despite starting his company with just $13,000.

He started his company in 1993, and started out with one delivery van. Over the years, the profits just grew, and he now has 15,000 vehicles and a network that covers 200 countries and regions globally.

Porinju Veliyath

Porinju Veliyath is one of the most inspirational rags to riches story in this list. He is one of the finest stock pickers in the country, and has been associated with stocks for 26 years now. Despite his success now, he has come from a very underprivileged background.

He was born into a lower-middle class family, but money troubles saw his family unable to continue to fund his studies. It also meant that his family home had to be sold to repay the debts rendering him homeless. It was from this point forward that he started working to bring in some money, and he has worked his way up ever since, giving him the highly successful reputation that he has now.

Jon Corzine

Jon Corzine was once believed to have an estimated net worth of $350million, despite growing up with very humble beginnings. He grew up on a small farm in Illinois, in a well-loved but humble family home.

He became the chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs and it is when he left here that he was believed to be worth millions. He then became a US senator and the governor of New Jersey, before becoming the CEO of MF Global, although this company has recently filed for bankruptcy.

Phil Falcone

Phil Falcone currently resides in a 27-room penthouse in Upper East Side of Manhattan, which he shares with his wife Lisa Marie and is worth $2.2billion. Before he founded Harbinger Capital, his life was very different.

He was the youngest of nine children, and grew up in a poor family home. He earnt a scholarship to Harvard, thanks to his hockey talent, and went on to play the sport professionally in Sweden. However, this ended when he injured his knee. He turned his back on sports and began his career on Wall Street, working a s a junior junk-bond trader, and the rest…is history!

T. Boone Pickens

Boone Pickens is one of the most successful energy investors in the US, and is currently worth $1.45billion. However; he grew up in Oklahoma during the Great Depression, before moving to Texas. He earned a basketball scholarship to Texas A&M, before transferring back to Oklahoma where he graduated with a major in Geology.

He later went on to open his own company, Mesa Petroleum, which is where he has seen his billions grow, and is currently chairman of BP Capital, a company which has been named after him.

Sidney Weinberg

Sidney Weinberg is one of the most legendary CEO’s that Goldman Sachs have ever had. He was incredibly successful, but did not have the best start in life.

He was the son of a poor Polish liquor dealer in Brooklyn, and dropped out of high school at a young age. Despite this though, he started working on Wall Street at the tender age of 16, where he made $3 a week as an assistant to the janitor. Sachs took a shine to him, and sent him to Browne’s Business College in Brooklyn, before he was eventually given a seat at the NYSE by the firm, and worked his way up, finally becoming CEO.

Gary Gensler

Gary Gensler is now the chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and thanks to hard work and determination is a multi-millionaire. He grew up in an under privileged working-class home in Baltimore, Maryland.

He worked hard at school though, graduating public school, before going on to obtain his undergraduate degree and MBA from the University of Pennsylvania. He went on to work for Goldman Sachs for 18 years, which is where he earned his millions, before leaving and working for the Treasury Department.

References and Further Reading:

  • Business Insider; 10 Fabulous Rags To Riches Stories On Wall Street
  • Bullbearings; Five rags to riches trading stories
  • Dukascopy; From Rags To Riches Through Forex – a Trades Guide
  • Timothy Sykes; 17 Great Rags To Riches Stories
  • CNBC; Rags to riches: Delivery man now China’s third-riches billionaire
  • Conflating Visions; He was once homeless but now he is one of the best Stock Pickers in India; The rags to riches journey of Porinju Veliyath

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Comments (3)

  1. Bob S.

    25 Jul 2017 - 11:46 am

    Sheldon Adelson was born in 1933, not the 1993.

    • 101Options

      25 Jul 2017 - 12:28 pm

      Oops, our mistake. Thats all changed now. Thank you for letting us know!

  2. My Homepage

    02 Feb 2018 - 3:52 pm

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