A widely-held common belief tells us that only those with special education, training, and expertise are qualified to give investment advice. The world of Wall Street is far too complex for anyone who lacks bona fide credentials. Raven defied this conventional wisdom, however, by becoming one of the most successful money managers in the United States, despite having no formal training or experience in investing.
He also happened to be a chimpanzee.
Raven Thorogood III was an actor who had already appeared starred in three feature films, several TV specials and numerous commercials. On January 7, 1999, the five-year-old chimpanzee tried his hand at becoming a financial advisor, as well. He threw a bunch of darts at a dartboard containing the names of 133 companies. The first ten company names to be hit by his darts formed the MonkeyDex stock index.
Raven’s picks included:
- AudioHighway (Nasdaq:AHWY)
- CMGI (Nasdaq:CMGI)
- iMall (Nasdaq:IMAL)
- Inktomi (Nasdaq:INKT)
- Kushner-Locke (Nasdaq:KLOC)
- ISSX Group (Nasdaq:ISSX)
- Lycos (Nasdaq:LCOS)
- NetSpeak (Nasdaq:NSPK)
- OnSale (Nasdaq:ONSL)
- OzEmail (Nasdaq:OZEMY)
Investors were encouraged to invest in this stock portfolio and see how well this amateur would perform. They didn’t have long to wait for the answer. For the year 1999, MonkeyDex delivered a 213 percent gain, outperforming more than 6,000 professional Wall Street brokers. This earned Raven the distinction of being the 22nd most successful money manager in the country. Guinness World Records named Raven as the “Most Successful Chimpanzee on Wall Street.”
Unfortunately, Raven’s success may have to be chalked up to beginner’s luck. It’s also possible it had something to do with the dot-com boom of the late-90s. Whatever the reason, MonkeyDex’s fortunes did not continue long after the first year. In August 2000, a little more than a year and a half after the creation of the portfolio, MonkeyDex was down 34% at a time in which the Nasdaq was up by 3.37% for the year.
When the Nasdaq crash hit, declining nearly 70% between 2000 and 2002, MonkeyDex was wiped out. Every stock chosen by Raven is worthless today. Even so, Raven had one glorious year in which he was heralded as the chimp who made a monkey out of Wall Street professional brokers.