Personality differences and level of success in traders with and without competitive athletic background
It is estimated that over 1.49 trillion dollars is traded in the financial markets each day. Due to the 90% failure rate of people who attempt to trade for a living, some means of predicting trader success has been sought. Trading firms have long assumed that former competitive athletes (high school or college level) make better traders because of their personality traits. Early research in the field of sport personology explored personality traits of athletes versus nonathletes as well as successful athletes versus non-successful ones and yielded mixed findings. This study was the first attempt at scientifically examining the impact competitive athletic background had on trading success. The 80 participants were full-time, male traders from several trading firms in the United States. The NEO-FFI was used to assess personality traits, while a brief survey was administered to evaluate athletic experience and type of sport played. A factorial design was employed, identifying two main effect factors (traders and athletes), each with two levels, resulting in four groups with 20 participants in each group. Canonical discriminant function analysis was utilized to find optimal combinations of the NEO factors that discriminated between the groups. The findings indicated that there was no statistical difference between athletes and nonathletes in their ability to be successful traders. The personality trait of openness was found to be statistically significant in differentiating successful from unsuccessful traders. An ideal trader personality profile was constructed based on the findings. Future research implications were discussed.