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Warren Buffett Top Financial Leader/Thinker According to New Survey

More than half of respondents to QFINANCE-sponsored poll say the Sage of Omaha is most influential in financial world; Joining him among top five are Adam Smith, John Maynard Keynes and industrialist peers John D. Rockefeller and J.P. Morgan; Respondents overwhelming think governmental regulators' effectiveness in financial crisis is poor; Call for more "honesty" and "integrity" from financial practitioners
NEW YORK, December 21, 2009 - Multi-billionaire investor Warren Buffett was named most often by respondents to a survey of financial practitioners and businessmen asking who they thought were the top financial leaders and thinkers of all time. More than 50% of respondents included Mr. Buffett among their top-five choices. Adam Smith, considered by many to be the father of modern economics, received the next highest total of top-five votes with 37 percent of respondents including him in their short list. He was followed by John Maynard Keynes at 36%. Contemporaries J.P. Morgan and John D. Rockefeller rounded out the top-five with 32% and 25% respectively.

The survey also asked respondents to rate on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 for poor; 10 for excellent) the effectiveness of government regulators to deal with the financial industry crisis. An overwhelming 72% gave government bad marks of 5 or lower with 35% rating regulators effectives a 1 or 2. Only 28% gave government a 6 or better, but not surprisingly, no one said regulators were doing an excellent job.

When asked 'What is the single most important attribute a leading financial practitioner should possess today?' more than 19 percent cited "honesty", "integrity" and/or "ethics." Other attributes that rated multiple responses included "long-term view," "skepticism," "creativity," "risk management," and "vision."

The survey was conducted in conjunction with the launch of QFINANCE: The Ultimate Resource, an unprecedented repository of financial content housed in a 2,200-page reference guide complemented by a free online global knowledge bank (www.qfinance.com).  The book and web site contain essays by the world's leading economists and financial experts - whose affiliations range from the London School of Economics to Goldman Sachs.

In addition to offering a rich lode of thought leadership and best practices, QFINANCE serves up a glossary of some 9,000 financial terms, along with 100 key finance ratios and pricing techniques, plus capsule summaries of the most seminal financial and business books, and a crib sheet for dozens of prime financial sources, from economic forecasters to government agencies and trade associations.  

Message to Leaders

Survey respondents  -- who included finance professionals at both large and small companies, with nearly half from companies with more than $50 million in revenues-- were also given the chance to tell what message they would give financial community leaders (regulators and executives), in 10 words or less? Among the responses were:

  • "Enforce current regulations...do not over-regulate."
  • "Without incentive, there would be no progress."
  • "Stop saying 'too big to fail."
  • "Get back to basics: risk/reward management."
  • "Manage based on long-term returns to shareholders and society."
  • "Let the markets resolve the issues without interference."
  • "Don't give/don't take public money to private companies."
  • "Embrace honesty and integrity; sacrifice reward for the common good."
  • "Teach financial literacy and entrepreneurism."
  • "Don't be swayed by general public opinion."
  • "Prevention is better than cure!"
  • "Diversification, deregulation and talent."
Profiles of the Top 5 Financial Leaders and Thinkers, as well as several dozen other influential individuals - ranging from originators of financial theory to those who created practical applications for real-life situations - are included in QFINANCE.  Their profiles listed alphabetically in the book and at www.qfinance.com include career summaries as well as an assessment of their contribution to the world of modern finance, and suggestions for further reading.

The Next Five

Following the top-five vote getters were George Soros (22%), Benjamin Graham (22%), Alan Greenspan (16%), Andrew Carnegie (13%), and Jack Welch (10%).  The appearance of Benjamin Graham in the top ten is not surprising considering that Warren Buffett studied under him at Columbia Business School.

Showing that there is room for debate on financial issues, Adam Smith, a free-market proponent received just a few more votes than Keynes who favored intervention and government use of fiscal and monetary measures to mitigate the adverse affects of recessions and booms. In fact, a number of ballots included both Smith and Keynes in the top-five.

Also reflecting the diversity of views on financial thought leadership, there were an additional 70 people that were not profiled in the inaugural edition of QFINANCE who received votes in the survey. Among the notable write-ins who received multiple votes are Milton Friedman, Paul Volcker, Ben Franklin and Alexander Hamilton.

"The Leaders and Thinkers survey shows that there is plenty of room for debate in finance and no one person has all the answers for every situation. Our aim in publishing QFINANCE: The Ultimate Resource is to serve as a reference on the full spectrum of financial topics. We hoped to foster learning as well as a dialogue on important economic ideas among practitioners worldwide - both in print and online," said Dr. Kathy Rooney, publisher of QFINANCE at Bloomsbury.


A few other interesting tidbits from the survey include:

  • The oldest recipient of votes was Sun Tzu, born in 544 BC and author of The Art of War, his writings are considered influential in managing conflicts and planning strategically.
  • Another industrialist who scored high overall was Andrew Carnegie. The powerful businessman and investor was named to the top-five by 13% of respondents.
  • Two former United States presidents - Ronald Reagan and Theodore Roosevelt - and current US President Obama received votes.
  • Several notable technology business gurus garnered votes, including Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.
  • No current CEO's or Chairman of the top banking/financial institutions received any votes.

About Bloomsbury Publishing Plc
Bloomsbury Publishing Plc is one of the world's leading independent, publicly quoted publishing houses with a reputation for a high quality management team and a highly valuable portfolio of intellectual properties including the Encarta World English Dictionary, JK Rowling's Harry Potter, Margaret Atwood, John Irving, David Guterson and Ben Schott. Other databases include Who's Who, Whitaker's Almanack, Reed's Nautical Almanac, Black's Medical Dictionary, the Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners of English, Business: The Ultimate Resource and the RSPB Guide to Birds. (www.bloomsbury.com)

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