There is a peculiar cycling contraption on the driveway, at the foot of the stairs leading up to the door of James Beeland Rogers, Jr.’s house. It looks like an adult tricycle, with its three wheels, two pedals and a pair of handlebars, but the large wooden basket nailed onto the front, big enough to fit two young children, is an intriguing accessory.
“That’s where my two daughters sit when I cycle them to school and back,” James Rogers, more widely known as Jim Rogers, says, confirming my suspicions.
Rogers covers about eight kilometres in total, picking up his youngest daughter at around 11 in the morning from Nanyang Kindergarten and cycling home before repeating the process at 1.30 pm, when the hot sun is beating down mercilessly on his shoulders, to fetch his eldest daughter from Nanyang Primary School.
It is no mean feat, especially for someone who is turning 71 this month.
This fatherly dedication and devotion to his daughters is incredibly admirable. So, it comes as a surprise when Rogers reveals that when he was younger, he never wanted to have children.
“I was always against children. I thought children were a terrible waste of time, energy and money. I was never going to do anything so foolish as to have a child,” says Rogers, “I can tell you right now I was completely wrong about that.”
To understand Rogers’s initial disdain for kids, it is important to go back to the past and discover the circumstances of his family life. The eldest of five children, Rogers grew up without much money but with a sharp nose for business that could spot opportunities where others did not.
While other children his age were having fun at the playground, the then 5-year-old Rogers sold peanuts and picked up empty bottles left behind by baseball fans after a game to make money.
“My Mum had me when she was 23 and another four sons within a span of six years. The poor woman had no idea what she had gotten herself into,” Rogers reflects, his eyes glazing momentarily at the memory.
Despite his difficult background, Rogers worked hard, graduating with a History degree from Yale University in 1964. Like all young, ambitious men at that time, Rogers headed to Wall Street to make a name for himself and managed to score a position with Dominick & Dominick, a renowned financial services institution and one of the oldest in America.
Rogers’s meteoric rise to the upper echelons of the financial world began in 1970 when he joined investment bank Arnhold and S. Bleichroder, where he would meet his future business partner, George Soros. In 1973, the both of them left the institution and set up the Quantum Fund together. Within a decade, the fund gained an astonishing 4200% while the Standard & Poor’s (S&P) 500 stock market index only managed to advance by 47%.