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Posts Tagged ‘trading on Wall Street’

The Problem Is Not the Market, The Problem is You

Posted by Larry Doyle on November 19th, 2009 12:14 PM |

Trading on Wall Street is fascinating. Picture yourself surrounded by individuals within three to four feet on every side, a manager at the end of the trading row, and salespeople screaming to get your attention. In what may appear to be bedlam, one must be able to properly manage significant levels of risk.

What are the key character traits necessary to manage risk? The ability to calculate quickly while maintaining exceptional levels of poise, focus, and discipline. Why do so many competitive athletes make their way to Wall Street? These trading floors are the equivalent of locker rooms and athletic fields.

As with any athletic atmosphere, there are also some very healthy egos on Wall Street trading desks. The very nature of the enterprise attracts those who have strong belief in their own abilities. Competition promotes ego. That said, throughout my career I witnessed varied levels of success inflate individual egos to the point where the ego became unmanageable, the risk outsized, and the subsequent losses fatal. That scenario repeated itself at every shop on Wall Street.

Having witnessed it, I kept a short cutout from a trader’s magazine. The magazine item addressed the topic of losses. I wish that I saved this clip, but I distinctly recall its message. In so many words, it said ‘the problem is not the market, the problem is you, the trader. You need to accept that the market and its participants are not wrong, but that you and your ego are not willing to accept initial losses so they grow to the point where the losses become fatal.’ (more…)

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