Greatest Financial Entrepreneurs of All Time

UPDATED: May 6, 2008
PUBLISHED: May 6, 2008

Charles Schwab b. 1937 Charles Schwab made investing even more accessible as a pioneer in the discount brokerage business. His company reduced trade commissions and gave more power to consumers to pick and choose their investments. Schwab also introduced e-commerce investing, allowing clients to execute, buy and sell orders online.

Quote: "A man can succeed at almost anything for which he has unlimited enthusiasm."

J.P.Morgan 1837-1913 Starting with railroads, Morgan reorganized the public utilities and steel industries before going on to refinance the U.S. government’s war debt. That same government later investigated the wealthy businessman for antitrust practices. As he testified before a House committee, Morgan told members, “The first thing is character… before money or anything else. Money cannot buy it.” Morgan recognized the importance of strong character and reputation in business. Often mentioned with Gilded Age greats such as Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller, Morgan is regarded as the most important banker to ever live.

Quote: "A man always has two reasons for what he does-a good one, and the real one."

Charles Merrill 1885-1956 Investing in the stock market was only for the wealthy until Charles Merrill brought Wall Street to Main Street. Founding Merrill Lynch in 1939, he taught middle-class Americans that the stock market was a viable investment vehicle for their retirement, their child’s college fund or a rainy day. He realized women also could benefit from investing in education, and held seminars nationwide for couples, with childcare provided.

Quote: "Life is for living. Have fun and spread your fortune around."

Amadeo P. Giannini 1870-1949 An Italian immigrant, Amadeo P. Giannini rose from the working class to start a bank catering to the needs of working families, regardless of their economic standing. While personal banking formerly was reserved for business owners and the rich, Giannini’s Bank of Italy introduced what would become branch banking, home mortgages, automotive loans and other forms of installment credit. After the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, with the city in rubble and many banks closed, Giannini extended credit “on a face and a signature” to help rebuilding efforts. His Bank of Italy later became Bank of America.

Quote: "A handshake and a promise is adequate collateral for trustworthy people."

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