Hall was born in Tallahassee, Florida, one of seven children to a family of farmers, day worker and fishermen. He studied for a BA in English at Bowdoin College and an MA in American literature at the University of North Carolina. After a period of unemployment and working as a college professor (teaching literature) he started to take an interest in finance.
Alvin started buying shares a little at a time and his ability to translate complex financial concepts into simple English through the use of slices of cake led to him becoming director of course development at Leo Fleur, a company selling training materials for Wall Street examinations. In 1986 he became director of marketing for the Chicago-based Longman Financial Services Institute in creating and implementing marketing campaigns for training programmes and products and consequently was executive director of the New York Institute of Finance.He is now the president of Cooperhall Press and designs and runs seminars for financial institutions around the world.
He has written books and articles on saving and investing and debt management. He presented Your Money or Your Life on BBC2 and has made various television and radio appearances. he has also appeared on The Apprentice: You're Fired as a panelist on several occasions.
Alvin also edits a money column in the UK's Reveal magazine.
Alvin has written Money Magic for the charitable organisation Quick Reads which encourages people to get back into the habit of reading.
Alvin is a private art collector and presented Alvin Hall's Art World for BBC Radio 4His collection includes pieces by Carroll Dunham, Victoria Morton, Tina Barney, Lee Friedlander, Carrie Mae Weems and Mel Kendrick.
Alvin is a Democrat and supported Barack Obama in the 2008 US Primaries. It was his view that Obama would win the Primary to become the Democratic nominee, but that race would play an important part in the November 2008 General Election and that Obama would not reach the White House.