Friday, February 9, 2018

Friday Feature Book Review: "A Hedge Fund Tale" by Barton Biggs バートン・ビッグス: ウォール街のイカロス─小説ヘッジファンド

This is about going 100% for the hedge fund dream. It is about total self-driven dedication to a clear career goal in New York City. All of this and much more, is critical for being successful in "Hedgistan" also known as Greenwich, Connecticut nearby. It is a hedge fund trader's personal story, and his inner drive without compromise. He is both winning and losing along the way. It shows a clear window into how New York grows top hedge fund traders who come from all parts of the US, and indeed the world. It is a city that is a magnet for world's financial talent as the rewards are unrivalled and unequalled.

This is a great read that represents a very common story of how determined people who stand out in any way, can succeed via hard work. If some hedge fund entrepreneur has fierce dedication & discipline, then a chance is always there. Outstanding competitive individuals with a background in sports or the military, can often make this transition. It is a career move into the most competitive areas of finance today, meaning of course hedge funds. 

The main character starts out as a high school athlete. He is from the rural countryside of the USA, and is lucky enough to find a mentor in a local HNWI(High Net Worth Individual). He works for him part-time as a teen, and builds a hunger for finance. This takes him to the highest levels of New York City and then Greenwich, the ultimate home beacon of "Hedgistan", the great land of the best hedge funds. 

The private golf & country club memberships, multi-million dollar mansions, and luxury cars are all part of the lifestyle. Where does lifestyle end? When do wants become needs? This is a question many ask themselves, along with all of the private school fees, and other high-end lifestyle costs. I have seen many true similar stories here in Tokyo, Hong Kong & Singapore. All are similar to this fictional tale in many ways that reminded me of various real hedge fund careers I have come to know in more detail where beach homes or ski chalets in Niseko, Shimoda or Phuket compare well to St Barths, Gstaad or Vail. 

The Top 3 Takeaways from this book that impact any reader are:

1) The first thing we learn is that the basic core skill set can be grown and be honed. Athletes know how to perform, and hedge fund traders share this trait.
2) The location of a top performer can start from anywhere, but the destination is usually only where the money is, a financial capital.
3) No matter how much money you make, it is more a lens that reflects than who you already are. Money does not make you into something, it only reflects what you are on a bigger wider scale.

If you are a financial information junky like me, and have the same kind of never satisfied need for lifestyle voyeur escapes, you will not be disappointed. There is plenty to marvel over. The spending and glamour are very much highlighted. There is indeed plenty of bling at the high end of the scale. Ultimately, this is very satisfying for those looking for this kind of escape! Sadly, this was the last novel by the late great Barton Biggs, the author. He was a Wall Street legend for many decades, and left this great gift for a new generation of financial young turks to read and learn from for later inspiration. Finance by its nature is ever changing, and constantly evolving. This is was a great piece of work and a wonderful read, Highly Recommended! 

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