10 Things You Didn’t Know about Burton Malkiel

Burton Malkiel

What do you know about Burton Malkiel? Unless you’ve studied his investment techniques in a college class or you are a follower of his techniques yourself, you may not know who he is. It’s safe to say that he’s a rather accomplished economist, not to mention author, but there’s also more to the story. How did he get where he is today? What types of challenges did he have to overcome in order to get there? If you’re interested in learning more about his methods of investing or how to achieve your own goals, regardless of what they might be, you should keep reading. Below are 10 things you probably don’t know about him and they might surprise you.

1. He went to Harvard twice

Most people would feel fortunate to get into Harvard once. He went twice, once for his Bachelor’s degree and again for his Master’s.

2. He had a rather unique high school experience

He also went to high school in a place that naturally lends itself to having a rather unique experience. The name of the school was Boston Latin School. As the name implies, it was more of a preparatory school where students were allowed to learn things that they might not otherwise learn in a typical public high school. While some students spent the majority of their days goofing around, he put his time to good use and learned everything he could. By the time he graduated, he already knew where he wanted to go to continue his education and he had everything in line to do exactly that, proving that being prepared and putting in the effort on a daily basis are key components to achieving virtually any goal in life.

3. He has a love for combining academics and economics

The one thing he wasn’t certain of at a young age was exactly where he wanted to put his expertise once he had finished school. At first, he decided to enter the business world but it didn’t take him long to figure out that he missed the world of academics. As such, he decided to combine his love for economics and academics, working to help schools such as those he had attended operate more efficiently while simultaneously serving on a number of boards that served both the business world and the academic world.

4. He’s been married twice

He first married in 1954. He and his wife had one child together, a son. Sadly, his wife passed away in 1987. The next year, he married his second wife, who just happened to work in an administrative capacity at Princeton University. This is where the two met, but more on that will be discussed in the next paragraph.

5. He also attended Princeton University

As you might have already guessed, he did indeed attend both Harvard and Princeton University’s. As previously mentioned, he went to university at Harvard for both his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, but later attended Princeton in order to achieve his Doctorate. As discussed in the previous paragraph, this is where he met his second wife, who had just started working there a year before their marriage.

6. He’s an accomplished author

In the 1970’s, he wrote a book called “A Random Walk Down Wall Street. It was all about passive investing, something that was an entirely new technique at the time. As of last year, this book was in its 12th printing and it’s still popular among business professionals and lay investors alike.

7. He has a tendency to look at things from a different perspective

Clearly, he doesn’t tend to look at things in exactly the same manner as most people do. If he did, he never would have figured out the techniques of passive investing, nor would he have written an entire book about the process. One of the more interesting things about him is that he takes the time to thoroughly research and understand the topic and then develop his own thoughts about how it should be handled from that point forward. He doesn’t have a tendency to simply adapt to a herd mentality where everyone thinks the same way and does the same thing. Instead, he understands that in order to get different results, things will have to be done differently.

8. He knows what it’s like to be dismissed by his peers

Even though he is quite popular in today’s world, that wasn’t always the case. In fact, when he first wrote his book in the 1970’s, he was completely dismissed by almost all of his peers. In truth, most people thought he was completely crazy. They did not believe that his techniques would work and they thought that he was out of his mind for publishing a book made available to the general public saying that they would. As a matter of fact, it took a number of years for him to regain the respect that he lost by merely stating his opinions about passive investing.

9. He believes anyone can learn to invest successfully

Nevertheless, he believed in his techniques, just as he does today. He also believes that anyone can learn to invest. He has never subscribed to the idea that one has to be an expert in the financial markets in order to learn how to invest successfully.

10. He’s proven his techniques work time and again

Obviously, his techniques have worked. Otherwise, his book would not be in its twelfth round of publishing and he wouldn’t still be giving financial advice to corporations, academic associations and individuals alike. The thing that makes him stand out is that he utilized his own techniques himself before he presented them to anyone else, proving that they would work effectively. Even though the financial market has changed a great deal over the decades, his techniques are still just as effective today as they ever were.



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