Anton Kreil's Early Life
This is the oldest picture online that we could find of Kreil from his Twitter account @AntonKreil. In his post he said this was taken 1 week before he joined Goldman Sachs just after he left University on a vacation in Spain.
Anton Kreil was born in Liverpool England, on January 16th, 1979 making him a “Gen Xer.” He grew up in a working-class, single parent household, in a rough neighborhood with his mother living from paycheck to paycheck. Kreil’s mother was of Jewish Eastern European descent and his father was Austrian. We do not know many details of his parents, but we do know his mother was born and raised in Liverpool, so it makes sense that his father moved to Liverpool from Austria when his parents married. His father hails from a region in Western Austria called Tyrol. Anton has one younger brother. We do know that both his parents passed away at some point separately in the last decade.
What do we know about his home life and education growing up? Well, his parents divorced when Anton was young and his father left the family home when he was five years old and moved overseas. This left him, his brother and his mother financially destitute and in all likelihood on welfare. By all accounts Liverpool in the 1980’s was a rough place to grow up. Kreil himself has alluded to this in the past in interviews, where he has stated there was a lot of drugs, crime, gang culture etc. It was among this chaos that he grew up.
He went to a religious high school in Liverpool and was a keen sportsman. People we have spoken to in his organization have told us that he was not a good student. In fact, we have been told he was a bad academic student up to the age of about sixteen, someone who disrupted classrooms constantly. They tell us he is proud of that to this day. The fact that he was a keen sportsman and disruptive is important here in understanding what drives Kreil to success. This was clearly a symptom of his home life. It is not difficult to imagine that Kreil was in a minority of children in his peer group as a product from a broken home. Divorce rates in Liverpool were very low in the 1980’s compared to today and to other cities. Historically Liverpool is a religious city, and divorce back then would have been frowned upon socially. Kreil must have felt like an outsider for all of his childhood. Like he didn’t belong. We believe his gravitation toward sport and his predilection for disruption were a way for him to protect himself from bullies and to gain respect from his peers. Almost a way for him to have value amongst his peers. He was captain of his high school football team, captain of his cricket team, swimming team and track and field team. He excelled in sports despite being a disruptive student in the classroom.
Something however changed in Kreil around the age of 15 or 16. Searching clips online of his various documentaries, interviews and speeches that he has given, we find that at around this age he decided he wanted to work hard, to get out of Liverpool and to forge his own life. We believe this is because of the combination of various experiences in his childhood. Firstly, his domestic / family situation, namely a single parent household with working mother and two sons. Secondly, his experiences of being an outlier at high school. He was different and he knew it. He likely exhibited envy of other children because of their domestic situation compared to his. Their father was present whilst his wasn’t. They had financial security whilst he didn’t. Thirdly, he realized through his pursuit of sports and disruption at school that he could gain value in the eyes of his peers and indeed he did gain their respect through these pursuits. The age of around 15-16 was clearly a pivotal time in the life of Anton Kreil. He could either be a victim of the circumstances bestowed onto him by the universe or choose to see them as a blessing. We know where he is today so it’s obvious. He chose the latter.
So how did this realization and change in mentality manifest?
Kreil did a few things around this age.
Firstly, he convinced his mother to open a trading account with a local stockbroker in the north of England. He has gone on record saying that at the age of 15 (1994) he watched a documentary on TV about Margaret Thatcher’s Britain. He watched the guys on TV who were working in the City of London flashing money on camera and he has said that he knew he was smarter and hungrier than them. So, he researched trading and financial markets every week by reading books at his local library. He also actively traded starting with money he had saved from doing summer jobs from around the age of 13. This is also important. Kreil worked in the summer holidays between school years and saved money from a very early age. This was obviously out of necessity. The value of working for value in return (money) is a lesson that Kreil learnt at an extraordinarily young age. It also shows willing, grit, energy and determination. Traits that seem very common amongst very successful business people and entrepreneurs.
Secondly, he decided he had to go to University. But how? He had no money to go. He must have decided that the value was worth it even if he had to finance it himself. So, he worked hard and ended up attending the University of Manchester to study Economics. He financed his degree himself. He received a 2:1 which is the second highest score a student can get in a UK degree. Plus, remember Kreil studied at the University of Manchester. In the UK this University is known as a “Red Brick University” i.e. one of the best Universities in the UK. It is certainly a top 10 school. He also attended from 1997-2000 before degrees were generally devalued. Kreil was taught in the “old skool” UK university environment.
From various online sources we have obtained, we can deduce that Kreil made around $200,000 US Dollars trading whilst studying for his degree at University in the late 1990’s and largely as a result, he was hired by Goldman Sachs to become a Trader in London on their Pan European Equities Trading Desk at the age of 20. Goldman Sachs offered him a contract at the beginning of his final university year. According to various sources, Goldman Sachs offered Kreil what is known in the industry as an “unconditional offer.” Meaning they didn’t even require him to have completed his degree to start work for them.
There are some other facts that we need to document here because it really is an astonishing achievement. He was the first person on his Economics undergrad degree program to be offered a contract as a trader by an Investment Bank. He was given eight interviews in one day and was offered his contract in the evening. Goldman Sachs interviews usually last 4-5 rounds of 40-50 interviews and people still get rejected. The applications to hiring rate were 1x trading job hire to every 10,000 applications at the time. So by getting his degree and making money trading at a young age Kreil became an undiscovered star who was then discovered by Goldman Sachs.
Making that money trading whilst studying for an Economics degree at one of the UK’s top universities would not have been easy. In interviews Kreil has said most of it came from trading Initial Public Offerings (IPO’s) of tech stocks in the late 1990’s. He has stated that he would put in an order with his broker to buy stock in order to get an allocation and “flip” the stock before he had to pay for it. Just to be able to work out this “arbitrage” takes a hell of a lot of intelligence as well as equal amount of balls to back himself with his own capital. If we think about this a little deeper in the context of his childhood experiences it does make sense.
Kreil in order to get ahead was forced to think differently as a result of his childhood experiences. Also, his disruptive attitude in high school could have meant that he is actually very naturally intelligent, as in he has a relatively high IQ. The evidence is clear. He didn’t work academically until he was 16 years old, spending all the time up to then disrupting classrooms. When he decided to work, he excelled very quickly. Plus he was smart enough to realize at the age of 15 or 16 that if he wanted his circumstances to change he would have to change them himself, and to do that, he would have to work. This shows intelligence combined with conscientiousness and an ability and willingness to sacrifice. This manifested itself with his university experience. While others were distracted with university life, Kreil’s goal was to become a top Trader. So he traded, made a lot of money, was spotted by Goldman Sachs who recognized these traits and they hired him on the spot.
Childhood experiences characteristics to take note of:
A parental vacuum leading to independence
Refusing to be a victim
Understanding an exchange of value
Ability to absorb facts and make decisions based on those facts
Faith in one’s own abilities
Willingness to take calculated risks that others for whatever reason fail to take