George Soros: An Investing Heavyweight Pulls No Punches
It can be said that there are two types of investing “whales”: those who influence the financial community quietly without rocking the boat, and those who don’t mind ruffling a few feathers. The consensus among investors, financial experts, and the media is that George Soros would most definitely fit into the latter category.
Born in Budapest, Hungary on August 12, 1930 and having lived through the Nazi occupation of 1944-1945, George Soros (born György Schwartz) is iconic not only for his impressive results as a hedge-fund manager, but for his outspoken views on, and tireless activity in, social-justice endeavors. Even now, at age 88, Mr. Soros remains a financial heavyweight through Soros Fund Management, his family office that boasts $27 billion in assets.
Having left Budapest in 1947 for London, George Soros worked as a railway porter and night-club waiter while attending the London School of Economics. He emigrated to the United States in 1956, where George began his journey to great wealth by taking various jobs at merchant banks.
In 1969 Mr. Soros established his first hedge fund, Double Eagle, later renamed Quantum Fund. A year later, he took the profits from his first fund and used them to start Soros Fund Management, his second hedge fund. Headquartered in New York City, Soros Fund Management remains one of the most profitable firms in the hedge fund industry, averaging a 20% annual rate of return over four decades.
Under George’s leadership, Soros Fund Management invests in public-equity and fixed-income markets worldwide, as well as foreign exchange, currency, and commodity markets, and private-equity and venture-capital funds. The firm is reported to have sizable investments in energy, transportation, financial, retail, and other industries.
Currently George Soros’ net worth is estimated at $8.3 billion, but as a philanthropist and supporter of a number of social causes, George is determined to put his wealth to good use. Having launched his philanthropic work in South Africa in 1979, Mr. Soros has given over $32 billion to fund the Open Society Foundations, which works to build vibrant and tolerant democracies in over 100 countries around the world.
In 2017, the Open Society Foundations announced that George Soros had transferred $18 billion of his fortune into an endowment that would be fund the future work of the organization; this brought his total giving to the Open Society Foundations since 1984 to over $30 billion. George has also provided support to independent organizations such as Global Witness, the International Crisis Group, the European Council on Foreign Relations, and the Institute for New Economic Thinking.
Sometimes politically charged but always passionate, George Soros’ chosen causes promote reform wherever he sees the need for positive change in the world. In George’s own words: “My success in the financial markets has given me a greater degree of independence than most other people... This allows me to take a stand on controversial issues: In fact, it obliges me to do so because others cannot.”
Outspoken in word and in deed, some will agree with Mr. Soros’ political views while others won’t. What remains undisputed, though, is the man’s renown as an investor – as a financial heavyweight, no one would argue that George Soros hasn’t gone the full 12 rounds.