5 most powerful people in finance
Business Insider recently released its list of the most powerful people in the world, and 10 of the top 50 included hedge fund managers, bank CEOs, and other magnates in the finance industry.
To determine the ranking, we considered more than 100 of the most influential players in business, politics, and entertainment and evaluated their influence using metrics in four major areas: economic power, command, newsworthiness, and impact – a subjective measure that captures how important they are in their respective spheres.
We then narrowed down the list to just those in the finance industry, adding six finance heavyweights who narrowly missed our top 50. You can read the full methodology here.
5. Larry Fink
Title: Founder and CEO, BlackRock
Few have more responsibility for the US’s economic well-being than Fink – CEO of BlackRock – the world’s largest asset-management firm.
After rising to prominence and then flaming out on Wall Street – he was forced out at investment bank First Boston after losing $100 million on a poor interest-rate bet – he started BlackRock in 1988. It quickly grew into one of the largest money managers in the country.
Fink is well regarded as a master of risk analysis and one of the savviest leaders in finance. His prowess and the company’s state-of-the-art risk-management system (dubbed “Aladdin”) made BlackRock a go-to adviser for sorting out toxic assets during the financial crisis, both to top banks and the US government. Today he’s trusted with overseeing $4.5 trillion in assets, a large chunk of it comprised of the hard-earned dollars from the average US citizen’s pension or retirement account. Fink is a popular and often speculated potential candidate for US Treasury secretary.
Title: Founder and CEO, Blackstone Group
Steve Schwarzman is the unparalleled king of private equity, with a fortune of $11 billion that includes splashy homes in Manhattan, the Hamptons, Jamaica, and Saint-Tropez. His vaunted buyout firm Blackstone Group is the largest on earth, with $334 billion in assets under management, and it has completed some of the most high-profile acquisitions in the industry. The company’s $26 billion leveraged buyout of the Hilton hotel chain in 2007 is considered by some to be the most profitable of all time, and Blackstone is now “the largest owner of real estate in the world,” according to Schwarzman. Blackstone has grown nearly four-fold since its 2007 IPO.
Schwarzman had a short but prosperous career with investment bank Lehman Brothers before leaving in 1985 to start Blackstone with ousted Lehman CEO Peter Peterson. They opened shop with $400,000, but Schwarzman gained a reputation as savvy and lucrative dealmaker, and Blackstone grew into a juggernaut. In 2014 it generated a record $7.5 billion in revenue. Never satisfied, Schwarzman wants Blackstone to double in size in the next eight years. Schwarzman donated $150 million in May to build a student commons at Yale.
4. Abigail Johnson
Title: CEO, Fidelity
In late 2014, Abigail Johnson succeeded her father Edward as CEO of Fidelity, the second-largest mutual fund company in the US, which oversees more than $5.2 trillion in assets. Johnson keeps a low profile, but it’s no secret she was groomed to take over the company from an early age. She started working at the firm in high school, and officially joined Fidelity as an analyst in 1988. Since 2012, Johnson had served as president.
Johnson wasn’t slow to wield her power and effect change after assuming the top role last year, quickly moving to cut costs and fire ineffective managers. She’s no stranger to power plays, reportedly maneuvering to oust her father in 2004 over a disagreement in vision (the effort failed, and Edward remains the chairman of the company).
Not only is the new Fidelity CEO responsible for millions of Americans’ retirement accounts, but through her roughly 24% stake in the company, Johnson holds a personal fortune of $18.5 billion, making her one of the wealthiest women in the world.
3. Jiang Jianqing
Title: Chairman and executive director, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China
Jiang commands Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the world’s largest commercial bank with $3.5 trillion in assets. Before starting as a teller at ICBC in 1984, he toiled onfarms and in coal minesduring the Chinese Cultural Revolution. When he took over as president in 2000 (he was tapped as chairman five years later), the bank wasalmost insolvent; today it generates $45 billion in annual profit, more than twice as much as JPMorgan Chase, the largest US commercial lender.
Jiang has also been an alternate member of the Communist Party’s Central Committee – the country’s top political governing body – since 2002. In 2014 he became thefirst Chinese bankerto serve as cochairman of the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
2. Janet Yellen
Title: Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve
As the head of the Federal Reserve – the first woman to hold the job – Janet Yellen is the guardian of the US economy. The results have been good so far: The US is closing out the year with a period of growth, adding 271,000 jobs in October and lowering unemployment to 5%, according to the latest jobs report. In December, the Fed elected to raise interest rates – for the first time in almost a decade – from 0%-0.25% to 0.25%-0.50%.
It’s a hefty decision with profound economic implications, and investors and company executives worldwide are dissecting Yellen’s plan. Some worry that lifting rates would damage individuals’ spending ability and hamper growth, leading the US into another recession, but Yellen is confident that a recession isn’t likely. After the rate hike, stocks surged, giving an upbeat assessment of how the economy is doing in the United States.
1. Warren Buffett
Title: CEO, Berkshire Hathaway
Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett bought his first stock at age 11 and never looked back. Since then, Buffett has continued to amass a fortune of $65 billionthrough a near-clairvoyant knack for making smart, long-term bets on companies like Coca-Cola and American Express. His shareholder letters are a must-read for investors looking to glean his wisdom.
His company has grown exponentially since he took over in 1964: $1,000 invested in Berkshire Hathaway stock then would be worth more than $10 million today. It remains one of the titans of the business world, announcing its largest acquisition ever in August with the $37.2 billion buyout of nuts and bolts maker Precision Castparts.
Buffett is a friend of Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates, whom he collaborated with on the Giving Pledge, a promise for billionaires to give away at least 50% of their wealth to charity. Buffett has given away nearly $3 billion in each of the past two years, and $21.5 billion in his lifetime.