Ken Griffin on insidermonkey caught the investment bug at a young age, jumping into the field as a college student. He is today ranked as one of the most influential men in the field of finance, running one the nation’s top investment and management firms. He is also widely known for setting aside large amounts of his tremendous fortune for the most noble causes.
Kenneth C. Griffin was born 47 years ago in Daytona Beach, Fla. In 1986, during his freshman year at Harvard University, he started a hedge fund that employed what is known as convertible bond arbitrage. This strategy involves the selling of common stock that has been converted from bonds or preferred stock.
Ken Griffin’s early investment plan was made possible with financial assistance from friends and relatives, including his grandmother. In order to help guarantee success, he equipped his college dormitory living quarters with a satellite link. His plan worked so well that it helped him avoid heavy losses during the 1987 stock market crash. Griffin would also receive a major boost from Frank Meyer, the founder of Glenwood Capital, with an offer of $1 million in financial assistance. It proved to be a good deal for Meyer, who reportedly made a 70 percent return on his investment.
In 1990, a year after receiving a degree in economics, Griffin launched the financial institution Citadel, which in less than a decade would grow to a company with more than 100 employee and $1 billion in investment capital. Griffin first appeared on the prestigious Forbes 400 list in 2003, when he was described as the youngest “self-made” individual in the field of finance. He has since appeared numerous times on the list. In 2004, he was proclaimed by Forbes magazine as the eighth richest American under the age of 40 in the “self-made” category.
Meanwhile, the Chicago-based company he founded some 25 years ago continues to grow, reaching a net worth of $5.5 billion in 2014. Earlier this year, Citadel was placed in the top 10 of Great Workplaces in Financial Services, an indication of the intense satisfaction of its employees. The company actually has two divisions, one of which concentrates on management issues and the other dealing with securities.
Describing himself as a Reagan Republican, Griffin has expressed concern over the risk management practices employed by Wall Street. A member of the Committee on Capital Markets Regulation, he has also voiced support for the need to change regulatory practices in the United States. His service to various civic and educational institutions include memberships on the boards of the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Chicago.
In terms of philanthropic activities, Griffin has donated approximately half a billion dollars to support various causes. He and his wife Anne established a foundation in 2009 for that very purpose. Other contributions have been made to Children’s Memorial Hospital, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Art Institute of Chicago. Griffin is himself an art collector, once purchasing a piece by painter Jasper Johns for $80 million. Griffin and his wife, who were divorced in 2014, have three young children.