10 best stock traders of all time

10 best stock traders of all time

Being successful in stock trading requires knowledge, time, patience, and luck. Some people made stock trading their main source of income, and they did it quite well. However, there is no scientific explanation for their success. But no trader sees success without the right strategies.

In this article, we will describe in more detail what stock trading stands for, how we can learn from them, and of course, talk about the most famous and successful traders.

Stock trading generally means buying and selling stocks quite frequently and at the right time. The most important point in stock trading, like in any kind of trading, is to know when the market is picking up and when is the best time to buy or sell your shares. Thus, the objective of stock traders is to buy stocks at a low price and sell them for a profit. To be a successful stock trader, you should invest much of your time in research.

We will start analyzing the most famous stock traders and discuss the important facts in their lives.

1. Paul Tudor Jones


Paul Tudor Jones is one of the most significant stock traders in history. Born in 1954, he is still alive today and active in his business. Paul Tudor Jones made his biggest fortune shorting during the famous stock market crash of 1987. A stock market crash is a sudden and very sharp drop in stock prices. In October 1987, the stock market dropped by 23% in a single day, which appeared to be deal-breaking for Paul Tudor Jones. 

On Black Monday of 1987, Jones tripled his capital from his short positions and gained around $100 million. He founded Tudor Investment Corporation, a $7.8 billion hedge fund, which he still manages and could predict the multiplying effect that portfolio insurance would have on a bear market.

Nowadays, the net worth of Paul Tudor Jones is around $5.1 billion, and is considered one of the world’s leading hedge fund managers. He is also known as the Black Monday Prophet, the nickname he was given due to his history of success. Nowadays, he is involved in some philanthropic activities with the Robin Hood Foundation.

2. George Soros


According to the nicknames that he has earned, “The Man Who Broke the Bank of England” and “the king of Forex trading”, George Soros is undoubtedly one of the most influential stock traders in the world. Born as Gyorgy Schwartz to a Jewish family in Hungary in 1930, he went through hard times during World War 2, and worked in several jobs such as a waiter or railway porter before making his way through England and graduating from the London School of Economics. 

When he was first introduced to the world of banking, George got a job at Singer and Friedlander as a merchant banker. In 1970, he established his hedge fund called “Quantum”, but his main success came in 1992 when he predicted and bet that the British pound would depreciate. 

By that time, the pound was introduced to the European ERM rate, but Soros concluded that it was not fundamentally stable enough to stay in the ERM. Thus, he shorted all the pounds he had, and thanks to this trade, he made $1 billion in a single day. Soros's net worth today is approximately $8.3 billion, he is retired and is involved in many philanthropic activities. 

3. John Paulson


John Paulson was born in 1955 and is known as the person who executed the “greatest trade ever” due to the fact that he shorted the real estate market by CDO, Collateralized Debt Obligations, in 2007. In other words, he used credit default swaps and could gain billions of dollars. Making profits while the global economy was struggling. This created doubts about Paulson’s legitimacy, causing some issues with the US federal government. In the end, it was cleared up and today, Paulson’s net worth is $4.2 billion, and he continues to manage his corporation Paulson & Co. which he founded in 1994.

4. Jesse Livermore


Jesse Lauriston Livermore, born in 1877 in the USA, is well-known for big fluctuations in his finances. He has had huge gains, but also huge financial losses in the market. However, he is still regarded as one of the most successful stock traders and an important figure in the business world. It's worth mentioning that he started buying shares at the age of 15, which inspired him to leave his actual job and devote himself to stock trading entirely. At the age of 24, Jesse Livermore converted $10,000 into $500,000, which was a huge achievement in his life, but he made his biggest break in the 1929's market crash when he managed to gain $100 million. 

Due to this fact, he earned himself a nickname, “The Great Bear of Wall Street”. Although he was smart and a good trader, his success did not last long. Unfortunately, he went fully bankrupt by 1934, lost all his money, and committed suicide in 1940.

5. Steve Cohen


Steve Cohen, born in 1956, used to be in the economics and poker business. The founder of SAC Capital Advisors, a leading hedge fund focused principally on trading equities, Cohen entered the stock market in 1978 by making $8,000 in a single day, and ultimately continued earning $100,000 per day. Cohen became well-known for his skill at making money in any given market conditions. 

According to Forbes, in 2011 Cohen was the 35th richest person in the USA. However, in 2013 SAC was fined by the Securities and Exchange Commission and eventually had to pay $1.2 billion. Cohen’s net worth nowadays is around $17.4 billion, making him the 93rd richest man in the world.

6. Jim Simons


Being a mathematician, Jim Simons was a significantly successful stock trader. Due to his profession, he is also known as the “Quant King” and as the “World's smartest billionaire”, because his Chern-Simons theory broke Russian codes during the Cold War. It’s not surprising that Jim Simons entered the stock market only in his late thirties. He set up the hedge fund Renaissance Technologies and hired only mathematicians and a scientist. He made his fortune over a 20-year period, with the Renaissance Technologies Medallion fund giving a 71.8% return from 1994 to 2014. The Medallion fund is not that famous, as in 2005 Simons closed it for everyone except his employees. The net worth of Jim Simons nowadays is $24.6 billion, which is quite high and makes him one of the most worthy traders of all time. 

7. Richard Denis


Born in 1949, Richard Denis is one of the most significant commodity traders ever born and is best known for turning a small amount of money into millions. Within 10 years, he acquired $200 million by having started to trade with as little as $400, which was borrowed too. Later on, Denis launched his group, the famous “Turtle Traders Group”, which he was trading at the Mid-America Commodity Exchange. He made his biggest fortune of $100,000 at once in 1973. The following year, he capitalized on a runway soybean market to earn $500,000 in profits, which made him a significant millionaire, but also a well-known man for his smartness and outstanding business skills.

8. Nick Lesson


Nicholas Lesson was born in 1967. Despite being successful in rogue trading, he was probably the only stock trader worth mentioning who was confined to a Singapore jail cell due to unauthorized and speculative trading in 1995. He is also known for causing the collapse of Barings Bank in the UK. However, he was still regarded as a star derivatives trader in the Singapore office of Barings Bank. He ended up becoming CEO of the Irish football club Galway United.

9. Jim Rogers


Jim Rogers was born in 1942 in the USA. He was a trade investor, but also a financial commentator. He was co-founder of the Quantum Fund together with Georges Soros, which was his fellow investor back then. He made his greatest fortune in the early 1990s by growing his portfolio by 4200% in only 10 years. Furthermore, he was well-known for his ability to forecast the American stock market since the 1980s. His forecasts, which he revealed later on, appeared to be useful, especially during the real estate and consumer debt bubble.

10. Peter Schiff


Peter Schiff was born in 1963 in the USA. Also known as “Dr. Dubb”, he was famous for predicting the stock market crash that took place between 2007 and 2010. Surprisingly, his father was a renowned tax protestor, which visibly arose Peter’s interest in the economy. 

Schiff predicted an economic collapse in 2006 and was inducing the people to take measures according to his warning. Nevertheless, he was reprimanded due to his prediction, and it was a topic of discussion in many TV shows by then. In 2007, he wrote a book, in which he was telling readers about the flaws of the US government’s economic policy and the acute imbalance in supply and demand. 

Key Takeaways From the Best Stock Traders

To summarize, famous stock traders have made significant moves in the business world. They are living proof that people can make money and turn some dollars into billions, and all that could be done legally. 

Also, the experience and biographies of those famous stock traders make it obvious that everyone has a chance to become a successful stock trader if they have adequate knowledge, a good drive, and some important skills.

FAQ About Stock Traders and Trading

Who is considered the three most powerful stock traders in the world?

Well, all the stock traders we have discussed above are significant and have a critical role in the trading history books. That being said, due to their achievements and outstanding results, our pick for the three would be Paul Tudor Jones, George Soros, and Jesse Livermore.

What Are the Crucial Soft and Hard Skills Needed to Be a Successful Stock Trader?

Anyone can try to be a stock trader. The thing is they either need to have or learn the following skills: 

Patience - is one of the critical soft skills in stock trading. You should realize that the profits in stock trading might take some time to arrive, thus you need to be patient and emotionally stable, not to overreact about the tiny losses or be extremely nervous while waiting for the results.

Research - like in any field, doing research is important, especially in stock trading as much depends on it. You should expand your knowledge of financial markets. The more you explore and learn about it, the more chances you have to be a successful trader.

Create a plan - failing to plan is planning to fail. Therefore you should have a clear idea of how you are going to trade. This plan should include your trading strategy, goals, and a risk management plan, in case something goes wrong.

Can one trade successfully without facing any tiny losses?

In theory yes. It is theoretically possible not to have any small losses throughout your trading experience. In this case, you should be super accurate, well-educated in this field, and know many tools of risk management.

In reality, not a chance in hell. All traders experience wins and losses, even the people on this list.