9 Successful Investors Who Don’t Have Finance or Business Degrees

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  1. Essential Attributes That Contributed to Warren Buffett’s Success
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Warren Buffett is arguably the most successful investor of all-time. He has a bachelor’s in business administration from the University of Nebraska and an MBA from Columbia Business School. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to have a finance or business degree to make it in the investment world.

Here are 9 successful investors who have non-traditional backgrounds:

Emanuel Derman

He’s a former physicist who got his start on Wall Street in the 1980s and is a co-author for one of the first interest-rate models, the Black–Derman–Toy model, which is still used in finance today. In 2004, he published a memoir titled “My Life as a Quant: Reflections on Physics and Finance.” Derman has a PhD in theoretical physics.

Karen Karniol-Tambour

She’s the former Head of Investment Research and current Co-Chief Investment Officer for Sustainability at Bridgewater Associates, an asset management firm with ~$140B in assets under management (AUM). Karniol-Tambour is also considered one of the “Most Influential Women in US Finance” by Barron’s. She received her BA from Princeton’s School of Public and International Affairs.

John Overdeck and David Siegel

Both are co-founders of Two Sigma, a quantitative hedge fund with $58B in AUM. Two Sigma uses artificial intelligence and machine learning in their trading strategies. Overdeck has a BS in mathematics and MS in statistics while Siegel has a bachelor’s in electrical engineering and a PhD in computer science.

Ian Wace

Wace is a co-founder of Marshall Wace, a London-based hedge fund with $68B in AUM. He has an estimated net worth of over $700M and runs a children’s education charity called “Absolute Return for Kids.” He does not have a college degree.

Michael Burry

If you’ve seen the movie “The Big Short,” he’s the guy played by Christian Bale. Burry was one of the few people who saw the subprime mortgage crisis coming. Before he started Scion Capital, he was a self-taught value investor who wrote about his stock picks on message boards while he was a medical resident. He’s reportedly never taken a finance or accounting course. Burry has an MD from Vanderbilt.

Carl Icahn

He’s the founder of Ichan Enterprises and has a net worth of ~$20B. He’s an activist investor that has been working in the financial industry since the 1960s. At one point in 1997, he had control over Marvel Entertainment Group. Icahn has a BA in philosophy and is a medical school dropout.

Charlie Munger

Warren Buffett’s investing partner and vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway. When he was a kid, he worked in Buffett’s grandfather’s grocery store in Omaha. He attended the University of Michigan before dropping out to join the army during WWII. He studied mathematics and meteorology before earning his JD from Harvard Law School.

Jim Simons

He’s a former mathematician and professor at Stony Brook University. He founded Renaissance Technologies, a quant hedge fund with $130B in AUM, at the age of 40 and didn’t have consistent success trading until he was in his 50s. Renaissance Technologies’ Medallion fund is one of the best ever on Wall Street, earning an annualized return of 39% after fees from 1988 to 2018. Simons has an estimated net worth of $29B. He has a BS and PhD in mathematics.