Robert Farrell

Robert J. “Bob” Farrell, First President CMT Association

Coming of age in post–World War II America, Robert Farrell took his father’s advice and abandoned his engineering ambitions to follow the money to Wall Street. ­­Farrell graduated with a bachelor’s degree in economics and finance from Manhattan College. Figuring an Ivy League degree would make him more marketable, he studied under Benjamin Graham and David Dodd, authors of the researchers’ bible, Security ­Analysis, at Columbia Business School, emerging with a master’s in investment finance in 1955.
After a two-year stint in the US Army, Farrell entered the research training program at Merrill Lynch.  Despite his background in fundamental value analysis under Graham and Dodd, Bob was offered a research job that nobody else wanted, technical analyst.  Even though he knew little about the technical approach, he decided to give it a try.  Farrell credits mentor and head of research, William Dunkak, with teaching him about markets and the role psychology plays in them.  After focusing on technical work and market history for several years, Bob decided to concentrate on longer term trends and cycles that would be more important to institutional investors and geared his commentary to that end.  This was the start of greater recognition for technical analysis at Merrill Lynch. 
In his role as a technical analyst, he achieved several milestones. He recognized the importance of investor psychology and contrary thinking to markets and was the first to use the term “sentiment” analysis to describe psychological indicators which is used extensively today.
In 1970 he joined with a group that created the first professional organization for technical analysts and became the first president of The Market Technicians Association, now CMT Association.
Institutional Investor Magazine’s annual research poll which added a Technical Market Timing category for the first time in 1976, ranked him # 1 in the country for that category 16 of the 17 years he was competing for the honor. Farrell recalls “My whole experience on the economy has been, if the majority of economists agreed on something, I knew I had to watch for something different.” By 1980, when Farrell was in his fifth year on the first team, II attributed a large measure of his success to his attention to the psychology of market players, or sentiment indicators, rather than business cycle indicators.  He was a frequent guest on the popular weekly TV show Wall Street Week with Louis Rukeyser and was voted by viewers to the Wall Street Week Hall Fame. He also created and wrote the first regular report on Theme investing in his last ten years at Merrill.
Thereafter, when he formed Farrell Advisory, he had a limited but highly successful number of financial industry leaders as clients.
Besides his commitment to his family, he served on the boards of the New York Foundling, Manhattan College and Mt. Carmel Catholic Church as Chairman of their investment committees over varying time periods.
He remains actively studying markets and hopes to have enough time to write a memoir about his experiences in the constantly evolving complex world of markets.
1988 - Annual Award
Video Archive Contributions
April 25, 2024
Fireside Chat
Presenter(s): Robert Farrell, Walter Deemer