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What are the common personality traits of traders?

Austin Distel on Unsplash 

Have you ever wondered if you would make a good trader? It’s becoming an attractive career option or side-hustle for a number of people. But what kinds of people make the best traders? And is it something that can be learned or do you have to have these traits naturally? 

Are there specific types of people or personalities that do well in this business? Many people tend to think of traders and others in the financial services sector, in very stereotypical terms based on what they see on TV. There it’s all about the power suits and alpha status, with a fairly relaxed sense of professional integrity. 

However, trading in today’s markets couldn’t be further away from the atmosphere portrayed on Wall Street, Billions, and The Wolf of Wall Street. The people have changed too. 

No longer is trading just in the bear pits of the stock exchange floor. All different types of people are using technology to become traders. From full-time stock exchange traders to part-time, home-based day traders, the types of people becoming successful traders are expanding all the time. Yet there are personality traits that are more common at the top levels of the industry. 

So, if there’s no one perfect personality to make it in trading, what are some of the more common traits of successful traders? 

Intelligence

A good level of general intelligence is a must for being able to understand the markets and the ins and outs of trading. The role can be quite complex and the better your understanding of it, the better at it you’ll be. 

That’s not to say that you have to have graduate degrees and a flawless academic record. Intelligence isn’t only made in the classroom. An inquisitive mind with a good dose of common sense and a logical mindset will get you a long way. There are many courses and training you can undertake to fill any gaps in your knowledge or understanding. 

Self-discipline

An undisciplined trader can be a dangerous thing. Developing and sticking to your trading strategies, resisting the urge to chase losses or exceed thresholds you’ve set for yourself.  When you’re discovering how to start day trading, you’ll discover just how important your trading plan is to your long-term success. 

The actual trading activity itself will take up a very small amount of time each day, the rest of the time is spent collecting information, analyzing markets and patterns. Taking shortcuts isn’t in the nature of any successful trader. 

Many people who have a strong sense of self-discipline in their careers, often have it in their personal lives too. If this is something you struggle with, there are ways to improve it. 

Confidence

Self-confidence is a great attribute to have in most careers. As long as it is true self-confidence, rather than arrogance, which can actually cause you to make mistakes through a misguided sense of your own talents. 

Too much hesitation and second-guessing yourself can cripple your trading record. Having confidence in yourself, your process and your trading strategy can keep you on track. Indecisiveness, or too much self-doubt following a losing streak, can affect you for a long time. 

A Morning Person

The financial markets across the world open and close at different times. In order to be on your game, you need to know what’s gone on overnight and be able to absorb this information and plan your strategy, all before the market in your country opens. 

It’s not just a case of setting an alarm clock either. To be a true morning person, you need to be fully awake, alert, and productive right from the get-go. 

Again, this is something that can be learned by getting into good habits. Even if you’ve spent decades lying in as much as possible or spending your mornings like a zombie, you can slowly make changes to  

Emotional equilibrium

The highs and lows of trading can be a real emotional rollercoaster. However, if you lived and died with every trade, you’d be an emotional wreck in no time. After all, day trading can involve more losses than wins, even for successful traders. It’s all about the wins being big. Knowing how to put losses into perspective is crucial for maintaining your focus. Being overly emotional when trading can affect decision-making.

If you’re purely seeking a high from investing, and don’t deal well with disappointments, then you might want to look at an alternative career choice. 

That’s not to say you can’t celebrate the big wins, but trying to keep things in perspective can help you keep your edge. 

Resilience

You need a high level of mental and emotional resilience. There are often more bad trades and good ones and you need to be able to bounce back quickly in the face of adversity or discouragement. 

If you find yourself experiencing a run of particularly bad results, then it can be easy to feel disheartened and stray from your trading strategy. Being able to continue on without being overly affected by your losses is a key personality trait. 

Calm under pressure

There can be a lot of stress associated with trading. After all, there is potentially a lot of money at stake. There is a fine line between respecting and accepting this reality and being overwhelmed by it. Being susceptible to stress can not only affect your trading in a bad way but can also bleed over into other areas of your life too, throwing off your work/life balance.

A great researcher 

Trading is no longer about ‘gut feelings’ and hail Mary trading, the market works on data. Being able to access and interpret information is key to determining your trading strategy. The best traders can analyze and interpret data quickly, seeing the bigger picture and reacting faster than others. This is what gives them their competitive edge. 

You need to know where to find data, what you’re looking for, how to interpret it, and how to make the right decisions based on it. Sharpening these skills can really raise your game when it comes to trading. 

Being led by the data means you have to be flexible and versatile, willing to challenge your assumptions when the data doesn’t support them. 

Being patient 

Having an itchy trigger finger when it comes to trading can be a huge liability. Sometimes, you are watching and waiting for the right circumstances to present themselves. Sometimes doing nothing is the hardest thing of all. 

Doing nothing seems antithetical to the image most people have of trading. 

Self-reliance

Most traders are responsible for driving their own learning and development. It can be daunting at first, especially if you’ve come from a different kind of environment. In many other careers, you are mentored and developed and have a network of relationships that you can rely on to help you. 

As a trader, it can often be a more solitary role, especially if you are learning trading at home or working remotely. You are responsible for every aspect of your own career. If you’re someone who thrives on and needs the company and support of others, then you might find trading an isolating career. 

To some people, self-reliance comes easily, it’s in their nature or they are encouraged to develop it throughout their early life and continue this into adulthood.  For others, it doesn’t come as easily and needs to be worked at. This can take a lot of trial and error. 

Embrace change

Trading today looks almost unrecognizable to how it did 30 years ago and who knows what it will look like in another 30. Being willing and able to adapt to the changing sector. Those who fight against change will find it difficult to be successful as the industry moves on and adapts to new markets and technologies. 

Make a point of keeping up on the latest thinking and thought leadership in the sector. 

Key takeaways

The trading sector has opened up over recent years. It is no longer the stereotype of the well-educated male with traditional education. Traders can come from all sorts of different backgrounds and have different personalities. You could meet one hundred traders and find one hundred perfectly unique people with different backgrounds and personalities. 

Many of the personality traits listed above are the most common ones associated with being successful. There are very few people in the world who have all of these traits naturally. In fact, they are something that needs to be worked on throughout your career and will build into true strengths all the time. Don’t be worried, often our strengths can help us to minimize our weaknesses. 

If you’re not sure about your particular strengths and weaknesses, there are a number of online tests you can take that will give you an idea of the personality type you have and which areas you might need to work on. They’re not designed to map every personality trait, but give you a good view of the broader picture. 



 

 

 

 

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