- Forbes Magazine just came out with it’s 2019 list of the top billionaires in the world.
- We narrowed down the list to the wealthiest in finance.
- Most on the list are self-starters who built business empires in banking, hedge funds, money management, and investments, while a few inherited their fortunes from a family business.
- From legendary investors to high-flying bankers, here are the 10 richest people in finance.
1. Warren Buffett
Net worth: $82.5 billion
Industry: Diversified investments
Source of wealth: Self-made; Berkshire Hathaway
Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett started his prodigious investing career at a young age. As a child he delivered newspapers on his bike, and by 11 the precocious Nebraska native had purchased his first shares in the stock market — Cities Service Preferred at $38 apiece — and sold them for a $5 profit. He was rejected from Harvard Business School, so Buffett went to Columbia Business School instead and learned under iconic value investor Benjamin Graham, who would become a mentor to the budding financier. Buffett worked as a securities analyst in the early-1950s before starting his own investment firm. He bought textile company Berkshire Hathaway in 1969, transforming it into a holding company that would house the many lucrative investments that helped build his massive fortune and earn the nickname “The Oracle of Omaha.”
The array of portfolio companies and investments that made him rich may appear random — he’s bet on companies including Coca-Cola, American Express, Geico, Fruit of the Loom, Dairy Queen, and General Motors — but they’re all cash-generating machines that offer long-term value.
A frugal man with a fondness for junk food, perhaps the most impressive part of Buffett’s $83 billion fortune is that it doesn’t include $31.5 billion he’s already given away. He’s good friends with Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates, whom he collaborated with to create the Giving Pledge, a promise for billionaires to give away at least half of their wealth to charity. He’s said that he will give away 99% of his wealth.
2. Joseph Safra
Net worth: $25.2 billion
Source of wealth: Self-made; Banco Safra
The world’s wealthiest banker, Safra owns Banco Safra, one of the largest banks in Brazil, and the Switzerland’s private bank J Safra Sarasin.
Born in Beirut, Lebanon, he is a scion of a Jewish banking family whose wealth dates back to Ottoman Empire. In 1952, he moved to Brazil with his family, and his father started working in the financial industry in Sao Paolo. Safra eventually got in the business himself, founding Banco Safra in the 1960s.
His late brother Edmond J. Safra is a notable philanthropist. In 1977 he and his wife Lily founded the Edmond J. Safra Foundation, and it continues to give to organizations all over the world today. Just to name a few of Safra’s causes: He helped refurbish synagogues all over the world, endowed the Center for Ethics at Harvard University and the science campus of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
3. Jim Simons
Net worth: $21.5 billion
Industry: Hedge funds
Source of wealth: Self-made; Renaissance Technologies
Before revolutionizing the hedge fund industry with his mathematics-based approach, “Quant King” James Simons worked as a code breaker for the US Department of Defense during the Vietnam War, but was fired after criticizing the war in the press. He chaired the math department at Stony Brook University for a decade until leaving in 1978 to start a quantitative-trading firm. That firm, now called Renaissance Technologies, has more than $57 billion in assets under management among its many funds.
He’s given away over $2.7 billion in his lifetime.