Investment Chiefs Remember Byron Wien, Legendary Wall Street Seer

Famous for his predictions, the celebrated investing strategist died at 90.

Byron Wien, one of the most influential voices on Wall Street, had a long string of admirers. Three CIOs who knew him personally applauded his abilities as a market seer and powerful intellect, with a jaunty personality that won everyone’s affection and attention.

Byron Wien

Wien, who started life in Chicago, was orphaned as a teenager and went on to a long career in finance, died on October 25 at age 90. The top strategist at Morgan Stanley and more recently at asset powerhouse Blackstone Inc., he worked up until his death and remained a well-followed savant throughout.

“Byron Wien stood out among us all,” says Britt Harris, acting CEO of the Texas Permanent School Fund Corp. and previously the CEO of the University of Texas/Texas A&M Investment Management Co. 

“His unique contributions to the investment ecosystem, delivered so consistently for so long, should be celebrated for the value they created,” says Jason Klein, CIO of   Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

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“Byron was a friend, a wise observer of markets, businesses and human behavior and a gifted investor,” says Ash Williams, former CIO and executive director of the Florida State Board of Administration—and current vice chair at J. P. Morgan Asset Management.

As the investment chieftains attest, Wien had a rich legacy. He was celebrated for his market analysis and forecasts. “The Ten Surprises of 2023,” co-authored by Joe Zidle, Blackstone’s chief investment strategist, marked the 38th year he had issued his auguries. Only the predictions of Bob Doll, former chief equity strategist at Nuveen and BlackRock, and now CIO of Crossmark Global Investments, are as well-known, but Wien’s came first; Doll’s have been around for 30 years.

Wien also had a list of life lessons, which highlighted the importance of getting enough sleep, reading, traveling and not retiring.

His predictive effort this year, published in January, may end up more wrong than right, although two months remain in 2023. For instance, thus far he has correctly foretold the fed funds rate going higher than inflation and the continued strong dollar. More iffy calls include a recovery for the social media company X (formerly Twitter), a Ukraine ceasefire and a second-half stock market recovery.

“This great man knew the fears and frailties of an orphan personally. Then he spent his entire life adopting all of us,” Harris says. “He showed us in his commanding, but gentle, way, and he pulled us forward. Byron showed us through both his words and his deeds that this industry is sacred and also that it is flawed.”

“Byron may be most well-known as a visionary—willing to put controversial thoughts out there to stir thinking, as with his annual ‘Surprises,’” Klein says. “But he was also a funnel—willing to convene thinkers and distill insights, as with his ‘summer lunch series’“ at his house in New York’s Hamptons.

Williams remembers fondly that in “recent years, [Wien] included ‘Byron’s Life Lessons’ in his annual ‘10 Surprises’ presentation. They are simple guides to life that are as timeless as his investment wisdom. He will be missed.”

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