The billionaire hedge fund manager talks about his career, investing, and philanthropy

Leon Cooperman is a true Vintage Value Investor.

Leon CoopermanCooperman earned his undergraduate degree from Hunter College. He almost became a dentist but instead decided to pursue an MBA at Columbia University, where he studied the methods of Graham and Dodd and deep-value investment.

After graduating in 1967, Cooperman began his career on Wall Street at Goldman Sachs, in the company’s investment research department. He stayed 22 years, eventually running the unit. Institutional Investor selected him as the top portfolio strategist each year from 1977 to 1985.

He went on to start Goldman Sachs Asset Management, became the division’s CIO and CEO, then chairman of its stock-selection committee and co-chairing the investment-policy committee.

Cooperman eventually left Goldman to create Omega Advisors — now a $9.3 billion hedge fund. The company’s flagship fund has outperformed the S&P 500 by 450 basis points. The tax-sensitive fund, introduced in the early 2000s, has done even better.

Cooperman is an active philanthropist and has pledged to give away most of his wealth. He has endowed scholarship programs at Columbia and Hunter and was one of the first Americans to endow Israel’s Birthright program.

A few days ago, Barry Ritholz had the opportunity to interview Leon Cooperman as part of his Masters in Business radio podcast series. If you don’t have 97 minutes to spare to listen to the entire interview (although I highly recommend it as it’s a great conversation), then I suggest listening to the main radio segment from 0:00 – 32:10, 57:00 – 1:03:50 where Leon talks about his stock selection process, and 1:21:14 – 1:37:05 where he talks about his daily routine, his lifestyle, and some of the other value investors that he admires.