Who Are the Best Investor and Best Trader of all Time?

photo of best investor - warrent buffetWhen it comes to the stock market, there are two people that I admire more than anyone else. Sure, there are quite a number of famous investors and famous traders who have netted billions of dollars for themselves and their clients.

In order to narrow down my list of most admired traders and investors EVER down to two names, I had to ask myself: who would I most want to sit down and have dinner with? Who would I want to have managing my money? If I had to recommend two people to family and friends so that I could best sleep at night, who would it be?

I went through many different names. George Soros. Eddie Lampert. Daniel Loeb, aka "Mr. Pink." Peter Lynch. Jesse Livermore. John Templeton. John Neff. Benjamin Graham. Just to name a few.

However, there are two names that stand out to me. Both have had a major impact in terms of both how I view the stock market in general, and also how I trade my own money. One is the greatest investor of all time, and one is one of the greatest traders of all time (in my humble opinion.)

The greatest investor of all time? That's easy. Warren Buffett, and it's not even close. Has taken Berkshire Hathaway from a failing textiles company and turned it into an international powerhouse that contains many different businesses and a cash hoard that other companies could only dream about. From 1962 until now, an average share of Berkshire Hathaway has risen from $3-$4 up to a current price of $137,800, after recently breaking the $150k mark. Berkshire Hathaway consistently outperforms the S + 500; BRKA has gained an average of 21.4% since 1965, compared to an annual gain of 10.4% for the S + P 500.

One dollar invested in Berkshire Hathaway is worth almost $4000 now.

The S + P 500 has only outperformed Berkshire Hathaway FIVE TIMES since 1965. That's five times in almost 45 years. To me, this is completely ridiculous and no one else can even come close to matching this record.

And he's done it consistently while the world around him has changed dramatically. He's performed through the Vietnam War, the oil crisis of the early 80's, the first Iraq war, the second Iraq War, the dot com boom and the dot com bust. He's outperformed the markets with Nixon as president, with Carter as president, with Clinton as president and with both Bushes as president. He has refused to waver when it comes to his investing strategy, even when he was facing a lot of pressure to do so (late 90's at the height at the dot com boom.)

He speaks his mind and he is a man of convictions. He is what all investors should aspire to be. Without a doubt, Warren Buffett is the greatest investor of all time. He's worth billions and billions of dollars, and he has made thousands of people millionaires and billionaires. If you try to compare him to any other investor on the face of the earth, they will just end up looking weak in comparision.

Now, who is the greatest trader of all time?

This one is certainly not as clear-cut. This trader has had a major impact on my life, as my trading philosophy closely followed his. He is massively successful and provides lucrative returns for his clients even while taking a much larger than normal performance fee.

Greatest trader ever? Steven Cohen.

steven cohen - traderEven his enemies will admit that Cohen is the best trader on Wall Street. It's hard to argue. Started SAC Capital with $25 million dollars in 1992; now, the firm controls about $12 billion in equity, and Mr. Cohen himself is worth about $7 billion dollars. His fund returns 36% per year AFTER fees. Not bad for a multi-billion dollar fund. Maintained its hot streak in 2006, returning 34% to its clients, after fees.

There are many reasons why I think that Cohen is a great trader. He is an events and news-based trader for the most part, which is the way that I trade. He is secretive and operates under the radar. He has made himself and the people around him very rich. He continues to deliver sizable returns to his clients on a yearly basis, even after fees. He has been consistently outperforming the market by a long shot since 1992. He continues to outperform the markets even with billions under management. He is smart enough to hire the right people and allow them to trade their own mini-accounts.

It is hard to find a trader with a better track record than Steven Cohen. He is one of the richest men in America for a reason; he's just that good.

In my opinion, Warren Buffett is the top investor of all time, and Steven Cohen is the top trader of all time. How does your list look in comparison?

Filed under: Trader Profiles | General Knowledge

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