Wall Street’s “godfather of technical analysis” Ralph Acampora has semiretired to a farm outside Chaska, and people wandering along the rural roads near there will receive a financial history lesson.
Acampora, 75, last week unveiled the largest handmade chart of the stock market on the side of a former sheep farm on the farm that has been in his wife’s family since 1848.
He plans to add to it in years to come, he told about 55 family members, friends, neighbors and members of the Chartered Market Technicians (CMT) Association that he helped found.
“I think it’s really great that he is still so passionate about market history and about education,” said Tyler Wood, CMT Association’s managing director of global business development. “It was really fun to see him bring his hand-drawn charts to the side of his barn.”
The chart measures 70 feet long and 16 feet high. It records Acampora’s 50 years in the market and includes a mix of market, economic, world, U.S. presidential and personal history.
The chart shows the 10 presidents, seven recessions and the five market declines of 30 percent or more during Acampora’s career. He highlights a number of other historical and personal events as well.
The biggest highlight — a big silver star in 2002 that Acampora labeled as the best investment of his life, the year he married his wife Rosemary.
Acampora, a Bronx native, jokes that he tried to retire in 2007 but it didn’t stick. These days, he does some teaching and presentations and is a part-time adviser to Altaira Capital Partners, a small investment management firm in London.
Acampora said he wakes up early and follows the markets for four or five hours, then moves on to some projects on the farm or follows his passions for American history and travel.
Acampora and his wife have had a residence in Minnesota for seven years. Three years ago, his father-in-law asked them to buy the family farm.
He said he told his father-in-law: “I’m from New York; I know muggers. I don’t know horses and cows.”
But the opportunity for horse therapy for Rosemary convinced him, and he found that he enjoys farm life. He leases the land for corn and alfalfa crops but has taken to other farm tasks including converting the old sheep barn.
The outside of the barn contains the chart. The inside contains a 6-by-60-foot cork wall display of American history, including mementos from presidential libraries, birthplaces and grave sites he has visited.
The showcase is a massive display of some of the hand-drawn charts he created daily in the 1970s and ’80s.
Acampora co-founded CMT, then Market Technicians Association, in the early 1970s. It now has about 5,000 members in 89 countries and administers the CMT Program, a three-level test that demonstrates mastery in investment risk and portfolio management.
The CMT designation now has the same recognition as chartered financial analyst (CFA), chartered financial planner (CFP) and chartered alternative investment analyst (CAIA).
Wood said Acampora and other early association members were underdogs fighting for industry recognition and respect.
“We’ve gone from a little club to a large and fast-growing credentialing association, and a lot of that comes right back to Ralph,” Wood said.
Besides his consulting and presentations, Acampora and his wife have more presidential library trips planned.
Acampora also plans to keep adding to the chart. To keep the chart legible, Acampora changed the scale three times. The latest mark nearly hits the roof line, and he says he will have to wrap it around the front of the barn soon.
And if the Dow advances much higher, then he will have to get creative.
“If the Dow goes through 23,000 — and it looks like it wants to do that — I’ve got to get back on television with this chart,” Acampora said. “They are going to ask me, ‘Where is this market?’ I’ll say — it just went through the roof.”