Steve Cohen is an American businessman who has made a fortune in the management of hedge funds. He's achieved a high level of success in his professional life and he's listed as one of the most influential people in the world. There are many lessons we could learn from him, and it's worth the time to review his history and career to learn about the factors which led to his tremendous success in life. Here are 20 things you probably didn't know about Steve Cohen.
1. He's a self-made billionaire
Cohen is a very wealthy man, but he didn't grow up in a wealthy family. If he was going to become rich, this was something that he would have to do on his own. This is precisely what he's done. Mr. Cohen made a fortune as a hedge fund manager. It is estimated that his net worth as of September of 2019 is $13.6 billion. His mother was a piano teacher and his father earned a middle-class wage at a women's apparel manufacturing company in the Manhattan garment district. The Cohens are a Jewish family that raised 7 children including Steven.
2. Cohen learned to take risks at an early age
While Steve was still a teenager in high school, he developed a fondness for the game of poker. This wasn't just something that he did every now and then, Cohen would actually bet his own money on the game and play in tournaments. As he looks back over his life, he can see how playing poker and using the funds from his own pockets taught him all about taking risks. Little did he know back then that taking calculated risks would later elevate him to the status of a billionaire.
3. Steve took a common-sense approach to life
It's unclear how well Cohen did in his teenage poker days, but when it came time to prepare for life as an adult, he didn't take chances on luck. He got down to business and enrolled in college classes. He attended the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania where he graduated with his degree in economics in 1978. This laid a foundation for his future.
4. He invested before graduating college
Steve Cohen had a friend who gave him a hand when he was still in college. Cohen was the kind of guy who had confidence and a fair amount of knowledge of how the stock market operated. He was familiar with the concept of taking risks and he knew that they could pay off, or you could lose your shirt. He made the decision to open a brokerage account and he used $1,000 of his tuition money to do so.
5. He went to work right out of college
Cohen didn't let any grass grow under his feet. After graduating from Wharton, he secured a position on Wall Street as a junior trader at Gruntal & Co. in the company's options arbitrage department. Steve Cohen was an unusually talented young man who made a profit of $8,000 trading on his first day back in 1978. He was off to an impressive start, but soon, he was bringing in $100K a day for the company. They bumped him into management and in 1984, Cohen was in charge of his own trading group at the company.
6. Steve Cohen was a "fruit boy"
When Steve was still a young man, he went to work to earn some extra money. He was hired at a local establishment called Bohack supermarket. His official position was "fruit boy," and most of us naturally assume that this meant that he worked in the produce department and handled the fruit. His starting wage was $1.85 per hour. He left this job in favor of one that was far more lucrative though. Steve made more money at the poker table than he did working for the supermarket.
7. He founded his own company very close to Gruntal
Steve had been employed for Gruntal for a number of years when he had gained enough knowledge and experience, plus he had made enough money to start his own business. He established and launched SAC Capital in 1992. This was when he and Gruntal parted ways. He found an office space for rent in the same building he had worked at for more than a decade and rented it for his new venture. The location was just nine floors above Gruntal. He even took some of the traders that he had worked with at Gruntal with him. SAC is a $25 million hedge fund with its headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut.
8. Cohen spared no expense in coaching his traders
Steve Cohen is a brilliant man who understands the stress that comes along with his profession. He went so far as to hire a psychiatrist to help the traders who worked for him to deal with the stresses they encountered on the job. The name of the psychiatrist was Dr. Ari Kiev and he was a well-known professional who had coaching experience previously working with Olympians. This effort was two-fold in its purpose. It was not only to enhance the well-being of his staff, but it also helped them to be more effective at their jobs. It was much like making an investment in the company as well as in the people who worked with him to achieve great things at SAC Capital.
9. Mr. Cohen was married and divorced
Steve Cohen married his first wife in 1979 when he was just 23 years old, and a year out of college. Her name was Patricia Fink. The couple had two children during the time of their marriage but things didn't work out between them. The marriage ended in divorce in 1988, after just nine years. The relationship would turn bitter years afterward when his ex-wife attempted to sue him and accused him of operating a racketeering scheme, and hiding millions of dollars from her so he wouldn't have to settle in divorce court. She further accused him of making money from insider trading in 1985, while the couple was still together. She began the litigation against Cohen in 2009 and the battle ensued for nearly 2 years, but in 2011, the case she had filed against him was dismissed.
10. The lawsuit was revived in 2013
Even after the case filed against him had been dismissed by the United States District Court in Lower Manhattan, the ordeal for Steve Cohen wasn't over. The case was reopened by the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York who determined that there was an error made by the lower court and that the case should not have been dismissed. In April of 2013, the case was revived.
11. He went on a dating service to meet someone special
Three years after the divorce was final from his first wife, Steve Cohen was ready to find someone special and to start a new relationship. He signed up through a dating service and this is where he et Alexandra Garcia. Alexandra is from the Washington Heights neighborhood and she is of Puerto Rican descent. The two began their relationship in 1991, and they decided to make it permanent and married. Steve and Alexandra started a family and they have four kids together. The couple is still together.
12. Cohen founded a second company
Steve Cohen established a second asset management business that he named Point 72 Asset Management. The company is a $13 billion hedge fund firm. It was restarted in 2018 for the purpose of managing outside capital. This was the net logical move for Cohen after he was forced to shut down his first company, SAC Capital. This was a consequence that was a result of the firm pleading guilty to insider training charges. this was a very expensive legal issue for Cohen because it cost him a fortune in penalties. He had to pay the amount of $1.8 billion in fines and levies.
13. Cohen never pleaded guilty to the charges
Although there were several members of the staff at SAC Capital that stepped forward and admitted to the illegal act of insider trading, this was not something that Steve Cohen ever confessed to. He maintained his innocence throughout the investigations. This was not enough to prevent him, as the owner of the firm from being on the losing end of the situation though. Because of the admissions of guilt made by traders employed at his firm, he was the leader who ended up paying out of pocket for the indiscretions.
14. Mr. Cohen maintains multiple leadership roles
Steve Cohen is involved in a variety of nonprofit organizations. He has founded many of them and he holds active leadership positions within them. he's concerned about his community and is willing to give of his time and of his money to help out with worthy causes. Mr. Cohen is a born leader. It comes naturally to him, and he's not the kind of person to delegate these responsibilities when he has the capacity to do them himself. He knows when to step back and when to get involved, which is an admirable trait.
15. He and his wife have a charitable foundation
In 2001, Steve and Alexandra founded the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Foundation. This organization was formed in a spirit of philanthropy and as a vehicle for making positive changes in the world. The foundation supports worthy causes in several different areas where a need exists. This shows how much the couple cares for the well-being of others and that they are active in doing their part to make the world a better place for everyone.
16. Steven Cohen has done a great deal for veterans
In addition to supporting veterans through the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation, Mr. Cohen created other organizations for the specific purpose of assisting American veterans. He established the Cohen Veterans Network as well as the Cohen Veterans Bioscience. These two organizations were founded in 2015. They offer aid to help in the mental health treatment, healthcare, adn the quality of life for veterans of the US Armed Forces Services who have recently come home to their families. The services provided are designated not only for veterans but for their families also.
17. Steve Cohen is an avid art collector
When Steve Cohen finds a work of art that he wants to own, he's been known to overpay for the piece. His serious passion for collecting art began in 2000. His first passion was with impressionist works and the new collector started his collection with works by Monet and Manet. Next, he discovered contemporary art and developed an interest in the works of emerging artists, acquiring a Pollock drip painting, which he paid $52 million for when he bought the piece from David Geffen. Cohen also bought a Picasso from Steve Wynn for a reported $150 million.
18. He's on the MOCA board
It's not really a big surprise that Steve Cohen is on the Museum of Contemporary Art Board of Trustees. With his natural leadership skills and passion for art, it's a part of his calling. He also serves on the Board of Trustees for the Museum of Modern Art as wels on the Emeritus Board of the Robin Hood Foundation.
19. He's funding 25 mental health centers
Steve Cohen has taken his work with the Cohen Veterans Network a step further. He made the announcement in 2016 that he was committing $275 million towards the establishment of between 20 and 25 new centers for the mental healthcare, and treatment of veterans and their families. The goal is to spread the centers throughout the entire United States by the year 2020.
20. Steve Cohen is an award-winning entrepreneur
Cohen has been widely recognized as a legend in the hedge fund management sector. He's made his billions in the industry and helped many others learn the ropes along the way. His hard work and amazing talents have not gone unrecognized. he was inducted into the Institutional Investors Alpha's Hedge Fund Manager Hall of Fame in 2009. There were several other notable professionals in the industry inducted along with him at the time, to name just a few, George Soros, James Simons, Paul Tudor Jones, Alfred Jones, Bruce Kovner, and others.
Written by Garrett Parker
Read more posts by Garrett Parker