Irving Kahn: The Kaiser of Keen Knowledge

Irving Kahn: The Kaiser of Keen Knowledge

By Charles Joseph | Editor, Financial Affairs
Reviewed by Corey Michael | Senior Financial Analyst

Irving Kahn was an American businessman and investor. He is perhaps best known for his long-term investment strategies and as the oldest active stockbroker on Wall Street. Born in 1905, Kahn learned the art of value investing directly under Benjamin Graham, who is widely renowned as the father of this investment approach. Over the years, Kahn built a reputation as a savvy value investor and co-founded Kahn Brothers Group, Inc., a private investment company. Even past the age of 100, he remained active in his firm’s operations up until his death at age 109 in 2015. Kahn’s career spanned an incredible period of nearly nine decades, witnessing significant events in financial history, from the Great Depression to the advent of high-frequency trading. His disciplined, patient strategy emphasizes buying shares of businesses that appear underpriced by fundamental analysis. It’s a philosophy that served him well, making him a respected figure in the investment world.

1. Irving Kahn’s Early Life and Career

Irving Kahn was born on December 19, 1905, in New York City. He developed a keen interest in stocks and investing at an early age, according to accounts. His fascination with the stock market grew while working as a runner on Wall Street, where he was in his early twenties when the Great Crash of 1929 unfolded.

One of the most influential figures in Kahn’s life was Benjamin Graham, known as the “father of value investing.” Kahn was Graham’s teaching assistant at Columbia Business School, giving him first-hand exposure to Graham’s groundbreaking investment philosophies. This relationship helped shape Kahn’s approach to investing, teaching him the importance of thorough analysis, self-discipline, and patience in finding underpriced stocks.

Building on these lessons, Kahn began a long and successful career in investing. He worked for various investment companies before founding his own firm, Kahn Brothers Group, Inc. He remained active in financial analysis and investment decisions at his firm even in his later years, demonstrating an unmatched longevity in the industry.

2. Kahn’s Investment Philosophy and Techniques

Irving Kahn was a dedicated follower of the value investing strategy, which he learned directly from Benjamin Graham. This philosophy emphasizes careful scrutiny of a company’s fundamental attributes and buying its stocks when they appear underpriced. This requires a great deal of patience and an unconventional perspective, often going against the majority sentiment in the market.

Kahn’s investment technique involved thorough research and analysis of a company’s assets, earnings, dividends, and financial strength. He looked for stocks that were undervalued according to these metrics. He trusted in his analysis and was content to wait – sometimes for years – for the rest of the market to recognize a stock’s true value.

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This approach to investing helped Kahn weather many financial storms throughout his career. In times of recession or market panic, Kahn often found the best bargains. His calm, measured response to market volatility even led him to make substantial gains during the 2008 financial crisis, when many investors suffered heavy losses.

3. Legacy of Irving Kahn

Irving Kahn’s career in the investment world spanned an exceptional length of time, witnessing significant historical events like the Great Depression, multiple recessions, and numerous market crashes. ’till his death in 2015 at the age of 109, Kahn was the oldest active investor on Wall Street. His longevity and success earned him a unique and well-respected position in the industry.

Beyond his immediate work, Kahn’s legacy extends to Kahn Brothers Group, Inc., the private investment company he co-founded. The firm continues to follow Kahn’s principles of value investing, showcasing his enduring influence on modern-day investment strategies.

Outside of his firm, Kahn’s influence continues to live on in the wider investment community. His principles of value investing and patient, strategic stock picking are still heavily influential today, inspiring new generations of investors. Kahn’s long life and career are a testament to his approach’s enduring efficacy, securing his place as a significant figure in financial history.


Irving Kahn’s remarkable journey as a value investor, spanning nearly a century, certified his place as a significant figure in the world of finance. His philosophy, investment strategies, and the legacy through Kahn Brothers Group continue to influence and inspire the realm of investment, testifying to the enduring power of value and patient investing.

Key Takeaways

  • Irving Kahn was one of the most respected figures in investment history, renowned for his long-term, value-oriented investment strategy.
  • Kahn learned the principles of value investing directly under Benjamin Graham and successfully employed them throughout his career spanning nearly a century.
  • Kahn’s investment philosophy involved thorough research and analysis of company’s fundamentals, demonstrating great patience in waiting for the market to recognize a stock’s true value.
  • Despite various market fluctuations and crashes, Kahn maintained his value investing approach, which proved its efficacy time and again.
  • Through Kahn Brothers Group, Kahn’s legacy and investment principles continue to influence the modern-day investment world.

Related Questions

1. What particularly set Irving Kahn apart as an investor?

Irving Kahn’s approach to value investing and his exceptional patience in waiting for investments to come good set him apart. Adept at identifying undervalued stocks and sticking with them until they reached their true value, he stayed the course through market volatility that saw many other investors deviate from their strategies.

2. Who was Benjamin Graham, and how did he influence Irving Kahn?

Benjamin Graham, considered the “father of value investing,” was a mentor to Irving Kahn. Graham’s approach to investment, which stressed the importance of rigorous fundamental analysis and patience, shaped Kahn’s investing philosophy. Kahn served as Graham’s teaching assistant at Columbia Business School where he honed these principles.

3. How did Kahn Brothers Group reflect Irving Kahn’s investment approach?

Kahn Brothers Group mirrors Irving Kahn’s investment philosophy of value investing. The firm continues to apply Kahn’s approach of thorough analysis, patient investing, and a long-term perspective, reflecting his enduring influence on investment strategies.

4. What is value investing and why did Irving Kahn advocate for it?

Value investing is a strategy that involves picking stocks that appear to be trading for less than their intrinsic or book value. Irving Kahn advocated this approach because it focuses on fundamentally strong companies that are undervalued by the market, presenting opportunities for long-term gains through patient and disciplined investing.

5. How was Irving Kahn able to thrive during economic recessions?

During economic downturns, many companies’ stocks become undervalued, which perfectly fits Kahn’s investment strategy. He capitalized on these moments to purchase fundamentally strong, yet undervalued stocks, displaying calm and strategic investing even during times of market panic. This approach enabled him to thrive where many investors suffered losses.