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.

Mark Fenton-O’Creevy

kevinRodgersMy 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

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”.

Continue reading

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.

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 one[i]. Experiments with rats show that under stress habitual behaviour persists longer in the face […]

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.

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 engaging presentation about financial education at the same event. Further presentations from the event can […]

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 and seen faces or the shapes of animals. Did you as a child see monsters […]

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 an ordinary day. Yet, economic accounts of human financial behaviour focus on reasoned weighting of […]

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 who are always ready to turn a blind eye if profits are being made. There […]