He has an incredible backstory. Soros was a teenage Jewish refugee who barely escaped persecution by the Nazis, and he is now a philanthropist supporting the cause of refugees and a liberal world order.
His track record has earned him comparisons with investing great Warren Buffett.
Following are some interesting facts about Soros’ life, gleaned from his investing career and philanthropic endeavours.
As a Jewish teenager in Hungary in 1944-45, Soros and his family survived Nazi occupation using false identity papers prepared by his father. Later he fled Hungary for England and studied philosophy at the London School of Economics under Karl Popper while working as a railway porter and night-club waiter.
After graduating, Soros wrote 'to every managing director in every merchant bank in London' asking for an interview but got 'just one or two replies.' Soros describes this period as the 'low point' of his life as he was humiliated at job interviews. He had to take up work as a salesman for a fancy-goods wholesaler.
He eventually got hired by Singer & Friedlander, a merchant bank in London, as a clerk. Soros says Singer hired him because its managing director was Hungarian. Soros moved to New York City in the 1950s to work for F.M. Mayer. Years later, after working as an analyst and trader at various firms, he founded Soros Fund Management in 1970.
Jim Rogers and Stanley Druckenmiller worked for him at his Soros Fund Management. They went on to become investing legends in their own right. Soros made headlines raking in $1.33 billion in 24 hours on September 16, 1992, by making a huge bet against the British pound.
Soros made headlines raking in $1.33 billion in 24 hours on September 16, 1992, by making a huge bet against the British pound. For 41 years, from 1969 to 2009, Soros compounded his investments at the rate of 26.3% -- a $13,259 investment would have turned into $190.53 million.
That's better than Warren Buffett's investment return of 21.4% over the same period -- a $13,259 investment would have turned into $28.4 million.
Soros used his academic background in philosophy to develop his own 'theory of reflexivity' in markets, which he sees as his life's achievement. Soros pledged $37.66 million for the Institute of New Economic Thinking, which aims to 'provoke new economic thinking,' after the 2008 financial crisis.
In recent years, Soros has turned toward philanthropy in support of international refugees and efforts to promote an 'Open society' across the globe. Soros returned to trading in 2016 as he expected greater political uncertainty to provide opportunities to profit in markets. But things didn't go well as he lost $1.33 billion after the surprise US elections. Soros wrote the US has 'elected a con artist and would-be dictator as its president.' He had earlier warned his friends saying 'these times are not business as usual.'
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