Coffeetalk: Episode 2 with David Darst

David and I met during my university years at Dalhousie and it was a fairly unlikely match, a university kid living in Halifax and one of the most respected minds on Wall Street but our friendship just clicked. We have managed to stay friends and have ambitions to one day embark on an adventure together in the Canadian Arctic! To this day, David is the most fascinating and captivating human being I have ever had the privilege of knowing. His mind truly operates on another level and I couldn’t be more excited to share his knowledge and wisdom with Mailbag readers this week. A little background about David…

Darst Headshot   darst

David M. Darst, CFA, served for 17 years as a Managing Director and Chief Investment Strategist of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, with responsibility for Asset Allocation and Investment Strategy; was the founding President of the Morgan Stanley Investment Group; and was the founding Chairman of the Morgan Stanley Wealth Management Asset Allocation Committee. Since 2014, he serves as Senior Advisor to and a member of the Morgan Stanley Wealth Management Global Investment Committee. He joined Morgan Stanley in 1996 from Goldman Sachs, where he held Senior Management posts within the Equities Division and earlier, for six years as Resident Manager of their Private Bank in Zurich.

David appears as a frequent guest on CNBC, Bloomberg, FOX, PBS, and other television channels, and has contributed numerous articles to Barron’s, Euromoney, The Money Manager,, The Yale Economic Review, and other publications. He was awarded a BA degree in Economics from Yale University, and earned his MBA from Harvard Business School. David has lectured extensively at Wharton, Columbia, INSEAD, and New York University business schools, and for nine years, David served as a visiting faculty member at Yale College, Yale School of Management, and Harvard Business School. In November 2011, David was inducted by Quinnipiac University into their Business Leaders Hall of Fame. David is a CFA Charterholder and a mem- ber of the New York Society of Security Analysts and the CFA Institute.


1. Where were you born?

In Knoxville, Knox County, Tennessee, United States of America.

2. What does the name “David” mean?

“David” comes from the Hebrew name דָּוִד (Dawid), which is derived from Hebrew דוד (dwd) meaning “beloved”. David was the second and greatest of the kings of Israel, ruling in the 10th century BC. Several stories about him are told in the Old Testament, including his defeat of Goliath, a giant Philistine. According to the New Testament, Jesus was descended from him. The name David has been used in Britain since the Middle Ages and has been especially popular in Wales, where it is used in honour of the 5th-century patron saint of Wales (also called Dewi), as well as in Scotland, where it was borne by two kings.

3. What does my name mean?

“Michael” comes from the Hebrew name מִיכָאֵל (Mikha’el) meaning “like unto God.” Michael is one of the seven archangels in Hebrew tradition and the only one identified as an archangel in the Bible. In the Book of Revelation in the New Testament, he is portrayed as the leader of heaven’s armies, and thus is considered the patron saint of soldiers. The popularity of Saint Michael led to the name being used by nine Byzantine emperors, including Michael VIII Palaeologus who restored the empire in the 13th century.”Michael” has been widely used in Western Europe since the Middle Ages, and in England since the 12th century.

4. How many stamps do you have on your passport?

From 114 countries, and I love each and every one of them! Sometimes on airplanes, I find myself occasionally flipping through the passport pages and being instantly transported to Australia, to Tibet, to Morocco, to Greenland, to San Marino…

5. You are as gifted of a wordsmith as I know. How many languages can you converse in?

What is your favorite? People all over the world appreciate it when you take the time and effort to acquire some words, phrases, perhaps some slang, and sentences in their native tongue. Early and extended exposure to Latin (and some Greek) ignited my interest in languages, and in addition to French, German, and Swiss German, I’ve at times been able to get by in Italian and Spanish. On extended business trips with fluently-speaking colleagues, I’ve been able to have some fun in Greek, Hebrew, and Arabic. There’s nothing like hearing beautiful French, and a language that totally enchants me (especially in song) is Brazilian Portuguese (“Você sabe do que eu estou falando” = “You know what I’m talking about” in Portuguese!)

6. Is it a lifelong goal of yours to travel to every single country on planet earth?

One of my lifelong goals is to circumnavigate our beloved Planet Earth in space.

7. Where are your three favorite restaurants on planet earth?

I totally LOVE every single restaurant in which I have had the pleasure of eating!  It’s so difficult to pick three, and as I contemplate this question right now, NUMEROUS epic, unforgettable dishes, wines, and meals come to mind, such as an amazing flan cake creation covered in marshmallow icing and slathered all over with this thick, viscous, runny caramelized sugar sauce that was served up in the airport cafe in Porto Alegre, Brazil, by what had to be the sister of Giselle Bundchen —  I find myself daydreaming about it from time to time!  I would send or treat a family member or dear friend to Pré Catelan in Paris, the Kronenhalle in Zürich, and the Auberge du Soleil in Rutherford, California!

8. What is the most fascinating place you’ve traveled to on planet earth that few know exist?

Just as with the restaurant question, this question instantly brings to mind all manner of places, from Andorra to Angkor Wat…People are certainly aware of the existence of Antarctica, and at the same time, it is difficult to adequately convey  — until you are there in person  — the purity, the immaculacy, the refinement, the ineffable sublety, the finely nuanced shades, colors, and hues of that extraordinarily beautiful landscape, which, the minute I first laid eyes on it, somehow also reminded me of traveling in the Rub’ al Khali (= in Arabic, “The Empty Quarter”), the largest contiguous sand desert in the world, encompassing most of the southern third of the Arabian Peninsula. The terrain is covered with reddish-orange colored (due to the presence of feldspar) sand dunes reaching heights of 820 feet (250 meters).

9. Who are the 3 most influential people in the United States of America?

In addition to the President, the Federal Reserve Chair, the Speaker of the House, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and the Majority Leader of the Senate, I might suggest: (i) the Commander, U.S. Cyber Command (USCYBErCOM) and Director, National Security Agency/Chief, Central Security Service (NSA/CSS); (ii) the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff [The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) is a body of senior uniformed leaders in the United States Department of Defense who advise the Secretary of Defense, the Homeland Security Council, the National Security Council, and the President of the United States on military matters. The composition of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is defined by statute and consists of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS), Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (VCJCS), and the Military Service Chiefs from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and the Chief of the National Guard Bureau; (iii) the Editor-in-Chief of American Vogue magazine; and if I’m allowed a fourth, either Taylor Swift or Mark Zuckerberg.

10. What is one thing about Canada that few Canadians would actually know?

Begun construction in 1992, the Trans Canada Trail is the world’s longest network of recreational trails. When fully connected, the Trail will stretch 24,000 kilometers (15,000 mi) from the Atlantic to the Pacific to the Arctic oceans. Just over 18,000 kilometers (11,000 mi) of the trail have been completed as of February 2016 and are usable, making the entire project approximately 80% complete. Two hundred and forty gaps totaling 6,200 kilometers (3,900 mi) must be bridged in order to achieve a fully connected trail. The Trans Canada Trail has given itself until its 25th anniversary and Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017 to reach this objective. The network of the Trans Canada Trail is made up of more than 400 community trails. Each trail section is developed, owned, and managed locally by trail groups, conservation authorities, and by municipal, provincial, and federal governments.  Considerable sections of the Trail are repurposed defunct rail lines donated to provincial governments by CP and CN Rail rebuilt as walking trails and “rail banked” as recreational trails, allowing conversion back to rail should future need arise. Thousands of Canadians, community partner organizations, corporations, local businesses, and all levels of government are involved in developing and maintaining these trails. The Trans Canada Trail does not own or operate any trail. As an ensemble, the Trans Canada Trail might be one of the largest volunteer projects ever undertaken in Canada. The main section runs along the southern areas of Canada connecting most of Canada’s major cities and most populous areas. While it is possible that quite a few Canadians know about route of the long northern arm which runs through Alberta to Edmonton and then up through northern British Columbia and the Yukon Territory into the Northern Territories, where I have photographed its terminus in Tuktoyaktuk (formerly known as Port Brabant and renamed in 1950, the first place in Canada to revert to its traditional name), population 854 inhabitants and coordinates  69°26′ 34″ N, 133°1′ 52″W, my guess is that not that many people know the previous name of ‘Tuk.’

To learn more about David, here is an article I wrote in 2014 about my first experience meeting him during his Halifax visit, in which he did a full-day workshop with the Dalhousie Investment Society and evening lecture to the Rowe School of Business.



One thought on “Coffeetalk: Episode 2 with David Darst

  1. Pingback: Mike’s Mailbag: Week 10, 2016 | mwilkes

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