Many people invest or talk about investing but few leave a long-lasting impression. The individuals listed below are exceptions.

Financial gurus can be thought of as leaders or teachers in matters relating to money. These individuals excel in this field and make or made such an impression that their actions or thoughts are closely monitored by people all over the world. That status could be achieved in numerous ways, such as through an invention, great investment track record, or presentation of groundbreaking data.

Key Takeaways

  • Financial gurus influence investors and change the way that a large number of people invest.
  • Eight of our top 10 financial gurus earned their stripes by consistently delivering superior annual returns over many decades.
  • Their investment strategies vary. Some are known for buying and holding, others for short-term speculative trades.
  • The other two gurus were responsible for creating and putting index investing, today one of the most popular and cost-effective ways to invest, on the map.

1) Benjamin Graham

Benjamin Graham is known as the father of value investing, which involves identifying and buying undervalued stocks that have the potential to grow over time. To calculate a company’s intrinsic value, his approach eschews trends and hot ideas and relies instead on diligent research, thorough financial analysis, and patience—standard concepts today, but revolutionary when he introduced it in the 1920s.

Graham’s disciples include many of the most successful investors of the last 70 years. His 1949 book The Intelligent Investor remains a must-read for all asset managers and stock traders, whatever their investment approach.

2) Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett, the “Oracle of Omaha,” is one of Graham’s most famous students. Buffett has openly attributed his remarkable track record to Graham’s principles. The one rule of Graham’s that Buffett does not always follow is to diversify: He often prefers to concentrate investments in companies.

After providing significant profits to his original partners, Buffett went public with the acquisition of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. in late 1964, making it the holding company for his other investments. The compound annual gain of Berkshire Hathaway from 1965 to 2023 is 19.8%, which is roughly double the return of the S&P 500.

Had you invested $1 in Berkshire Hathaway in 1964, your investment would have been worth $4,384,748 at the end of 2023.

3) Peter Lynch

Peter Lynch managed the Fidelity Magellan Fund from 1977 to 1990. During his tenure, he provided investors with a 29% annual compounded rate of return. After leaving the fund, Lynch wrote three best-selling books detailing his investment philosophy and stressing that small investors are capable of doing better in the stock market than large asset managers.

4) John Bogle

John Bogle was the founder of the Vanguard Group, one of the world’s largest investment companies, and is credited with creating the first publically available index fund and campaigning to drive down the cost of investing, amid much initial skepticism. This makes him a deeply important and revolutionary figure.

Index investing makes it possible to invest in a diverse range of assets at a low cost. This strategy lets participants invest in the entire market rather than a few individuals within it. Over the years, it has grown to become the most popular way to invest and has saved retail investors a fortune in fees.

5) Burton Malkiel

John Bogle wasn’t the only figure behind the birth of index funds. Burton Malkiel also played a key role. In 1973, the economic professor and former Vanguard director, via his highly influential book A Random Walk Down Wall Street, presented groundbreaking new data that supported the idea that all investors should use passively managed index funds as the core of their investment portfolios.

Back then, the concept of index funds was barely known and there was no way for the public to invest in them. Malkiel’s idea that it’s more efficient to invest in the whole of the stock market rather than individual stocks set the wheels in motion for a revolution that changed how people invest today.

6) Charlie Munger

Charlie Munger is best known for being Warren Buffett’s right-hand man. He served as second in command to the Oracle of Omaha from 1978 to 2023 and was instrumental in the growth of Berkshire Hathaway, which delivered a stock return of 19.8% annually from 1965 up until the year of Munger’s death in 2023.

Munger was the kind of person people were eager to listen to. His years of experience and impressive stock-picking credentials made him a fountain of wisdom. Among other things, he helped convince value investor Buffett of the importance of investing in companies that generate lots of cash and have a defensible moat.

7) George Soros

When pundits talk about the world’s greatest investors, George Soros is often one of the first names mentioned. Soros is best known for making huge currency bets. His most famous trade was his bet against the British pound in 1992. That particular trade “broke” the Bank of England and reportedly netted him $1 billion in a single day.

This wasn’t Soros’ only success story. The Hungarian-born investor made himself and others a fortune from various short-term bets. His Quantum Fund racked up annual returns of about 20% from 1973 until its closure in 2011.

Soros and Druckenmiller’s bet against the pound has gone down as one of the most profitable trades of all time.

8) Stanley Druckenmiller

Stanley Druckenmiller is one of the most successful investors of all time. He is perhaps best known for helping George Soros in the early 1990s make over a billion dollars shorting the British pound. However, that was not his only major accomplishment. Druckenmiller’s hedge fund, Duquesne Capital Management, delivered annual returns of 30% before closing in 2020.

Today, Druckenmiller continues to invest via the Duquesne Family Office LLC. Like Soros, he is known for employing a top-down investing style. He also has a penchant for investing short-term in out-of-favor commodity stocks.

9) Carl Icahn

Carl Icahn is one of the most recognized and influential activist investors on the planet. His general strategy is to build large positions in struggling companies and then use his ownership stake and influence to engineer change and unlock shareholder value. This often involves forcing management out and/or selling assets.

By the end of the 20th century, Icahn became a key figure on Wall Street to follow. When he started building stakes, investors would follow, hopeful that he would boost the company’s returns.

Dalio helped McDonald’s bring the Chicken McNugget to the market.

10) Ray Dalio

Ray Dalio founded Bridgewater Associates out of his two-bedroom apartment in New York and, over several decades, transformed it into the largest hedge fund in the world.

Along the way, Dalio came up with many innovations that revolutionized how global institutions approach investing. He operated his business based on a series of established principles focused on cause-and-effect relationships and in-depth analysis of past phenomena and introduced various strategies, including risk parity and alpha overlay.

Who Is the Most Famous Financial Guru?

The most famous financial guru today is probably Warren Buffett. When people talk about investing, Buffett’s name is often the first to come up in conversation. Buffett is revered for his long-term investment track record, humbleness, and easy-to-understand explanations of his investment process.

Who Is the Godfather of Investing?

The title “godfather of investing” is usually reserved for Benjamin Graham. Graham is considered a founder of fundamental stock analysis and value investing. He has influenced many investors, including perhaps the most famous of them all: Warren Buffett.

Where Can a Beginner Get the Best Financial Advice?

There are various people you can turn to for financial advice. For ideas on how to invest, it can be useful to read books and listen to the wisdom of those who have been doing it successfully for years. There are also qualified experts you can meet with in person. In exchange for payment, a financial advisor can help with a wide range of financial matters, such as retirement planning, investment strategies, and debt management.

The Bottom Line

Financial gurus are a timeless inspiration and a source of expertise and knowledge for all types of investors. Many of these gurus have written books or done interviews explaining at least some of their secrets on how to invest money. This information can be priceless and used to enhance the returns of both novice and experienced investors.

Taking into consideration the wisdom provided by people who have made a fortune from investing makes a lot of sense. However, it’s also important not to blindly follow others. Take advice but also make sure you do your own homework.


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