Masters in Business: Byron Wien

Barry Ritholtz is a Bloomberg View columnist. He founded Ritholtz Wealth Management and was chief executive and director of equity research at FusionIQ, a quantitative research firm. He blogs at the Big Picture and is the author of “Bailout Nation: How Greed and Easy Money Corrupted Wall Street and Shook the World Economy.”
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Byron Wien was an "average portfolio manager" at Morgan Stanley when he was offered the job of investment strategist, he says in this week's "Masters in Business" podcast.

He was told, "You are the only man for this job." Only he wasn't -- he was actually the seventh person offered the position. Many of Wien's friends advised him to turn it down because the investment strategist position at a retail firm is a thankless role with limited upside and the constant opportunity to be identified as wrong. Wien turned away such advice, thinking, "I am good as a portfolio manager, but I will never be great." As an investment strategist, however, Wien thought he could be "world class."

It was the right decision. He was investment strategist at Morgan Stanley for 21 years, and in 1998, First Call named him "the most widely read analyst on Wall Street." Often ranked as one of the most influential and accurate people on Wall Street, Wien made the role of strategist his own. He became known for his annual list of "Surprising Predictions." Eschewing the usual forecast list, Wien instead offers up a list that most people believe have a worse than one-in-three chance of occurring, but that he believes will happen. It is a clever twist on the usual terrible forecasts so many strategists do each year.

The 81-year old Wien is currently vice chairman of Blackstone Investment Partners. The conversation is a fascinating discussion with an old pro who has seen the markets and industry change over 50 years. You can stream the interview on SoundCloud or download the podcast here. Next week, our guest is Jack Schwager, author of the heralded "Market Wizards" books.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.

To contact the author on this story:
Barry L Ritholtz at britholtz3@bloomberg.net