13 Incredibly Wealthy Wall Streeters That Started Out With Nothing

ray dalio

No hedge funder made more money last year than Bridgewater Associates founder Raymond Dalio — he made $3.9 billion.

Not bad for the son of a jazz musician from Jackson Heights, Queens.

Most of the time we imagine powerful Wall Streeters growing up in the lap of luxury, going to boarding school and attending Ivy League Universities.

But it isn’t always like that, there are a handful of other Wall Streeters who started their lives in either impoverished or very humble conditions before they made their journey to the top of the financial world.

We’ve compiled a list of these Wall Streeters with a rags to riches tale to tell.  Some of them might surprise you.

Ray Dalio

Ray Dalio grew up in Jackson Heights, Queens. His father was a jazz musician.

He bought his first stock (Northeast Airlines) in the 1960s with money earned working as a golf caddy. He was just 12 years old, and the shares eventually tripled in value.

He attended Long Island University in 1967. After that, he clerked at the NYSE before attending Harvard Business School.

He worked at Dominick and Dominick LLC and then Shearson Hayden Stone before founding his hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates in his NYC apartment in 1973. Now it's the largest hedge fund in the world.

Source: Insider Monkey

John Stumpf

John Stumpf shared a room with his brothers until he was married -- enough said, right?

Well there's more. He grew up on a dairy and poultry farm in Minnesota. He had bad grades and high school and his parents had no money so he ended up working as a bread maker after he graduated.

He finally got into St. Cloud University and worked as a repossession agent at First Bank in St. Paul, Minnesota. That's what lead him to getting his MBA at the University of Minnesota.

Now he's the CEO of Wells Fargo.

Source: LA Times,

Jon Corzine

Disgraced former MF Global chief executive Jon Corzine touted his humble beginnings during political campaigns for office.

Corzine grew up on a small family farm in Illinois.

His father farmed the land and sold insurance and his mother taught elementary school.

He later became the chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs.

When he left Goldman he was believed to have a net worth of $350 million.

After his stint at Goldman, he was a U.S. senator and the governor of New Jersey.

Then he became the CEO of MF Global, which recently filed for bankruptcy.

Source: New York Times

Source: Fox Business

Gary Gensler

Gary Gensler, the chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, grew up in a working-class home in Baltimore, Maryland.

His father was a cigarette and pinball machine vendor for local bars.

He graduated public school and later attended the University of Pennsylvania where he obtained his undergraduate degree and his MBA.

Then Genlser went to work for Goldman Sachs where he stayed for 18 years and became a multi-millionaire.

After leaving the bank, he worked for the Treasury Department. He's currently the chairman of the CFTC.

Source: DealBook

Chris Gardner

Chris Gardner is perhaps one of the most familiar rags to riches stories on Wall Street. If you've seen the film 'Pursuit of Happyness' starring Will Smith then you already know his story.

Gardner currently serves as the chief executive of stock brokerage firm Gardner Rich & Co., but things weren't always that way.

At one time, he was a homeless single father living in San Francisco. He did, however, have a job.

He was a stockbroker trainee at Dean Witter Reynolds making only $1,000/month. Gardner was striving to be one of 20 trainees to be offered a full-time position, which he ultimately did earn.

Today he is a multi-millionaire.

Source: CNN

Sidney Weinberg

Sidney Weinberg, the legendary Goldman Sachs CEO who passed away last year, was born the son of a poor Polish liquor dealer in Brooklyn.

Weinberg, a high school dropout, got his start on Wall Street at the age of 16 working as an assistant to the janitor making only $3/week.

The firm's founder Paul Sach's grandson took a liking to Weinberg and had him promoted to the mail room. Eventually Sachs sent Weinberg to Browne's Business College, in Brooklyn.

He was eventually given a seat at the NYSE by the firm. Weinberg worked his way up the ladder being promoted to partner, senior partner and ultimately chief executive officer.

Source: The New Yorker

Phil Falcone

Harbinger Capital's founder, Phil Falcone, who has a net worth of $2.2 billion, currently lives in a in a 27-room penthouse in Upper East Side of Manhattan with his wife Lisa Marie.

However, life wasn't always this way for the hedge fund titan.

Falcone, the youngest of nine children, grew up poor in a small home in Chisholm, Minnesota. His father was a utility superintendent and his mother worked at a factory.

'Not everyone who runs a hedge fund was born on 5th Avenue,' Falcone told House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform during a November 2008 hearing about hedge funds.

Growing up, Falcone was a talented hockey player. He was even able to earn a scholarship to Harvard and later played professionally in Sweden.

After his brief stint in pro hockey that was ended because of a knee injury, he hung up his pads and skates and began his career on Wall Street as a junior junk-bond trader.

The rest is history for the billionaire hedge fund manager.

Source: Harvard Crimson

Source: Reuters

Lloyd Blankfein

The son of a postal worker and receptionist, Goldman Sach's chief executive definitely comes from humble beginnings.

Lloyd Blankfein was born in the Bronx and grew up in Brooklyn where he shared a bedroom with his grandmother.

To earn extra money growing up, Blankfein worked as a lifeguard and served concessions in Yankee stadium.

Blankfein was a good student. He told Fortune he did well because he wanted to succeed.

During high school, his classmates voted him 'most likely to succeed.'

He earned a scholarship to Harvard, but college life wasn't easy.

Blankfein, who came from poorer backgrounds than many of his peers, had to work in the cafeteria to makes ends meet.

After graduation he attended Harvard Law. He practiced for a while before entering the investment banking world where he thrived.

The 56-year-old bank executive has been paid an estimated compensation of $137.74 million over the last five years.

Source: Fortune

Glenn Dubin

Billionaire hedge fund manager Glenn Dubin, co-founder and CEO of Highbridge Capital Management, grew up in Washington Heights in Manhattan.

His father was a taxi driver who later worked in manufacturing and his mother was a hospital administrator.

He attended a public school and graduated from Stony Brook University with a degree in economics.

He established Highbridge Capital Management with his childhood friend Henry Swieca.

The two future billionaire hedge funders met playing in the sandbox at a park when they were just kids. They both bonded over peanut-butter-and-banana sandwiches.

Source: Forbes

Source: Institutional Investor

Source: Wikipedia

George Soros

Hungarian born billionaire hedge fund guru George Soros grew up in poverty.

Soros' was born in Budapest and grew up in a Jewish household. His father was a writer.

He grew up during the rise of Nazi Germany.

He eventually moved to England and studied at the London School of Economics. His uncle paid for his tuition, but he was still a poor student.

He took up small jobs such as a railway porter and a waiter. After graduation, he started a working for a bank called Singer & Friedlander.

Today George Soros, 81, is worth $22 billion.

Source: GeorgeSoros.com

Source: Wikipedia

Leon Cooperman

Omega Advisors' founder Leon Cooperman has an estimated net worth of $1.8 billion.

Things weren't always that way for the hedge fund superstar.

Cooperman grew up in the South Bronx and his father was a plumber.

His parents were immigrants and he was the first of his generation to graduate from college. He attended Hunter College in Manhattan and later graduated with his MBA from Columbia.

When he finished school, he had no money, student loan debt and a six-month old child to take care of.

He ended up going to work for Goldman Sachs where he stayed for 25 years where he became a partner and CEO of Goldman Sachs Asset Management.

'I have proved that with an average IQ, lots of drive and ambition coupled with a heavy dose of good luck, a lot can be accomplished,' Cooperman told Forbes in a Q&A last year.

After Goldman, he founded hedge fund Omega Advisors.

Source: Forbes

Source: Forbes

T. Boone Pickens

Billionaire energy investor T. Boone Pickens grew up in Oklahoma during the Great Depression era and later moved to Texas with his family.

His father worked in the oil industry and his mother ran a service that rationed gas during World War II.

Pickens earned a basketball scholarship to Texas A&M and transferred to Oklahoma A&M where he majored in geology.

After graduation he went to work in the oil industry.

Eventually, he founded his own company that would be known as Mesa Petroleum. Mesa grew after a series of acquisitions.

He currently is the chairman of BP Capital, which stands for 'Boone Pickens.'

Pickens, 83, of the most successful energy magnates in the U.S. His net worth is $1.45 billion.

Source: Wikipedia

Source: Forbes

Carl Icahn

Icahn was born in 1936. His father was a synagogue cantor (though apparently an atheist); his mother a school teacher. He attended Far Rockaway High School in Queens.

He worked his way through Princeton then went to the Army and medical school briefly. He didn't find a home until he went to legendary mutual fund manager Dreyfus & Co. After that, he started his own brokerage firm. The rest is history, he became a corporate raider.

Now his name is all over NYC (Icahn Stadium, Icahn Highway) and he's known for having owned a stake in almost every country under the sun.

Source: Icahn report

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