I am delighted to introduce a guest blog by Kevin Rodgers, formerly global head of foreign exchange at Deutsche Bank, with an impressive career in trading. Kevin is also the author of a great new book which charts the major changes in investment banking ‘Why aren’t they shouting?’, not to mention a pretty good opera singer.
My first anxiety dreams came to me within a couple of weeks of starting my career on a trading floor and were about an almost laughably trivial worry – whether I could operate the bank’s pricing software. It was 1990, I was at Merrill Lynch and, fresh out of business school, my job as a junior options trader in the bank’s Foreign Exchange (FX) trading team meant making prices using a tool called FENICS. Replete with knowledge gleaned from business school finance classes, I understood what I was doing but the physical task of typing in the pricing parameters was rather tricky: I was often doing so one-handed (while cradling a phone with the other), and always under time pressure in a ringing cacophony of noise. My dreams took an increasingly familiar pattern: I had an important price to make; the market was moving but I simply couldn’t type the numbers into the right places on the screen; the client’s sales contact was shouting at me to hurry up with increasing urgency and volume. Then I’d wake up with a sudden start in the darkness. Continue reading “Anxiety, adrenaline and automation”
Let’s call him James, a trader in a City investment bank; young, smartly dressed, confident, and a little impatient. He sat across from me in the interview:
“It’s really important to stay cool. For myself, I can say that I really don’t have much emotion while I trade”.
Half an hour later, as he relaxed a little, the façade had started to crack:
“Actually the pressure can be horrendous, a trade goes badly wrong, you are staring into black hole, frozen, knowing you should get out but just hoping the market will turn . . I rushed off the desk and threw up in the toilet – I was terrified”.
Here is a link to my interview with Michael Considine of Share Radio. Where I talk about my research on emotions and investment and the work of the True Potential Centre for the Public Understanding of Finance. Continue reading Interview on Share Radio
Hermit crabs rely on acquiring discarded shells for their protection and are constantly on the look-out for better shells. However, faced with environmental stress they prefer to stick with their old shell, however unsuitable, than risk moving to a new … Continue reading On fund-managers, rats and hermit crabs: reversion to familiar habits under stress
I gave this talk at the launch of Essentia Analytics, an innovative firm developing software to help fund managers track and improve their susceptibility to behavioural biases. Continue reading Emotions and the financial behaviour of professionals.
The video below is a presentation I made at the launch of the Open University Business School‘s Centre for the Public Understanding of Finance (PuFin). You can find a copy of the slides here. Martin Lewis also made a very … Continue reading The Emotional Business of Finance
Humans have a great capacity for exercising control over their environment and for detecting patterns in the confusing mass of information they face. This capacity can also mislead; not least in financial markets. Have you ever looked at the clouds … Continue reading It’s clouds’ illusions I recall . . . trading and the illusion of control
ight or flight Imagine you are one of our hunter-gatherer ancestors, walking across the African plains. Or perhaps, in more recent times a Massai tribesman in Kenya. The grass is long in places and punctuated by small trees and bushes. … Continue reading Lions and lion-shaped bushes in financial markets: traders’ expertise in emotion regulation
It is common to contrast emotions with rationality (usually in tandem with proclaiming the superiority of reason over emotion). Take for example this post on the changingminds blog. It is also the claim at the heart of Ayn Rand’s morally … Continue reading On the false contrast between rationality and emotion
Money fractures marriages, drives wars, inspires art, motivates some people to great achievements, leads others to despair. Fear, desire, love, hate, jealousy, anger, anxiety, relief, shame and many more shades of emotion may attach to money in the course of … Continue reading Welcome to the emotional finance blog
A brief trawl of media comment on the banking industry over the last few years suggests that the industry is awash with criminals and fraudsters. The picture of traders, often presented in the press, is of amoral risk-takers with bosses … Continue reading LIBOR, rogue traders and the supply of motivated offenders