In a recent speech to a class at Harvard Business School Mark Sellers, founder of Chicago-based hedge fund Sellers Capital, argues that great traders are born and not bred. He believes that there are seven “structural assets” that cannot be taught, adding, ” They have to do with psychology. You can’t do much about that.”
1) The ability to buy when others are panicking, and vice versa
2) An obsession with the trading game
3) A willingness to learn from past mistakes
4) An inherent sense of risk based on common sense
5) A confidence in your convictions and a willingness to stick with them
6) An ability to have “both sides of your brain working” (i.e. to go beyond the math)
7) The ability to live through volatility without changing your investment thought process
I think that some of the concepts discussed here are spot on (and I spend a great deal of time hammering home the importance of #7) , but I disagree with the overall idea that great traders are born, not made. I believe success in trading is not about a specific style, but rather about understanding your personality traits and then developing a trading style (and which product – i.e. stocks, commodities, fx) that fits you best.
We are who we are. That does not change throughout our life, but we can learn to wait for times when the market is paying our personality type and then generate successful returns when that window of opportunity appears.