Of all the stories in the history of markets, that of ‘the turtles’ may well be the most intriguing. In 1983, commodities trader Richard Dennis set out to show that anybody could trade profitably provided they were taught some simple rules. His partner, William Eckhardt, disagreed – and a wager was born. (If this sounds familiar, it should be. It forms the basis of the plot to John Landis’ 1983 comedy, ‘Trading Places’.) Dennis placed classified ads in the financial press soliciting trainee traders - no experience required. Successful applicants were subsequently taught some basic rules about risk management and trend-following. These aspirant traders were called ‘turtles’ after Dennis’ experience of seeing a Singaporean turtle farm, and his belief that successful traders could be “grown” just like those turtles. 21 men and two women were hired over the next two years in two separate programmes. Long story short, many of ‘the turtles’ went on to become multi-millionaires.
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