Trader Performance Coaching: If its good enough for Wall Street’s heavy hitters, then its good enough for you.

Last week saw the first episode of 'Billions', a major new TV Drama which aired in the US. The programme revolves around Damian Lewis as 'Axe Capital' hedge fund boss Bobby "Axe" Axelrod. One of the other lead characters in this programme is fictional performance coach Wendy Rhoades. At 'Axe Capital' just one session with Wendy Rhoades is all you need to transform your performance. You may spot a little 'dramatic license' being used here; surely one session is far too quick to make a difference to trading performance! Well yes it is. And can a 'Performance Coach' really make such a difference to trading performance? Well actually yes they can, that much is true. 'High quality' performance coaching can make a huge difference to a trader's performance. I know this because as a trader at Commerzbank back in 2001, I was fortunate enough to be the beneficiary of coaching from one of the world's leading performance coaches. My performance as a trader saw a dramatic improvement in the wake of that coachng. And since 2009, I have been working as a performance coach myself with traders, and have witnessed significant transformations in performance amongst traders whom I have worked with.
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'Wall Street’s Heavy Hitters have a Secret: The Performance Coach.' - This line is stolen from an article in today's Guardian newspaper. - Yet despite this,it is still rare to find many traders being coached. Why is this? 
'One of the principal reasons behind why most traders do not work on improving and enhancing their skills and abilities as risk-takers, is because to do so would be tantamount to them admitting they need to.'
There you are, I said it. - Just to repeat - 
'One of the principal reasons behind why most traders do not work on improving and enhancing their skills and abilities as risk-takers, is because to do so would be tantamount to them admitting they need to.'
That is one horrible self-destructive loop! For many traders, admitting they need coaching represents a huge 'Cognitive Dissonance' and would be a major dent to their 'Ego'. In a world where 'self-belief' is almost as vital an asset as real physical capital, admitting that you need help seems like one small step away from destroying that precious 'self-belief'. An example of this features in a previous article which can be seen here. But there are exceptions: Perhaps it is not surprising that so many of the world's top traders employ coaches. Often these people are able to divorce themselves and their trading from their egos. That is one of the characteristics which makes them great at taking and managing risk in the first place. Once you can separate yourself from your ego, at least metaphorically, then instead of saying 'whats wrong with me', you can start saying, 'How can I get better?', 'How can I improve?', 'How can I stay ahead of the rest of the pack?', 'How can I start to move from 'Good' to 'Great'?'.

Moving from ‘Good’ to ‘Great’.
In virtually every other field of human endeavor or skilled profession, people are employing outside help from coaches to help them up-skill their capabilities and abilities.- Elite athletes and top sportsman utilize a coach or even a team of coaches. In the military, ‘Special Forces’ personnel receive extra 'special' coaching. Surgeons spends thousands every year up-skilling. Most senior executives in large corporations receive ‘Executive coaching’.

In our work as coaches we work with traders, investment managers and trading businesses, helping them refine their skills and abilities to help them attain excellence in their trading performance. We see it as equivalent to the transformation elite athletes and top sports-people go through to make that jump to the very top of their game. In trading and investment, the field is the market, the ball is uncertainty, and the enemy is yourself.

Developing ‘Human Alpha’ through powerful Risk Performance Coaching Programmes.

‘Human Alpha’ = The extra return generated through developing stronger human risk-taking skills. Our risk performance coaching and development programmes have been used at some of the worlds leading financial market businesses to help them develop their 'Human Alpha'. Our programmes utilize powerful coaching techniques, and draw on years of experience of working in financial markets and having provided high level coaching. They are further informed by a deep understanding of the behavioural factors which impact trading performance and risk decision-making, and are often supplemented by analysis of bio-metric data and advanced 'mindfulness' techniques for greater focus and concentration.

Overcome your Ego and start considering how Performance Coaching can help you transform from 'Good to Great'.
  • First: Remove any negative or defensive thoughts along the lines of ‘Why would I have a coach, there is nothing wrong with me’.
  • Second: Dispel any ideas that coaching is something that novices and juniors receive. Juniors receive teaching and training, Those who make it to the top in any field receive coaching.
  • Third: Look at it in a positive light: If it is good enough for the big hitters on Wall Street and at Major Hedge Funds, then its certainly good enough for you
  • Fourth: Join the success stories: Countless traders and investment professionals who have been through our coaching programmes have seen some huge improvements in their performance. Some examples of which can be seen below:
The Extraordinary 'Returns on Investment' from Coaching for Professional Traders and Portfolio Managers.
In a recent article, which can be seen here, we highlighted the return on investment on our coaching based on feedback received from several of our clients. Some of the examples in this article included:
  • A hedge fund portfolio manager who went from virtually flat performance to over almost $50mio in year 1 and beyond that in years 2 and 3.
  • An FX bank trader who had been running annually at $2.0 to $2.5mio profit consistently for many years, who increased his p/l to $4mio in the first year of coaching and to over $6mio in the following year.
  • A team of 10 FICC traders at a small European bank who had seen their profits as a group jump by $15mio, a significant percentage increase whilst in the same year global FICC trading returns declined by an average of 7%.
  • A bank swaps trader, with nearly 20 years experience, who's trading had led to him being at a $2mio loss, but by the year end and with the support of the coaching, had turned his performance around, and in the following year produced his best ever performance.
These examples are not isolated one-offs but are quite typical, we could have included many more. In fact we can draw on outside help by referencing a research piece by Citi Prime Finance, from 2013. This piece highlighted how Hedge Fund firms who focused on the people aspects of performance (Including Coaching) saw average returns some 200bp per year higher over the three year period of research, than other firms who scored far lower in terms of the people aspects of performance. For a mid-size hedge fund with $3bio of AUM, that equates to around $60mio extra income per year.

The benefits of the coaching often goes way beyond the additional monetary gain. Traders display far greater levels of confidence and self-belief, and these are based on real performance capabilities, not self-serving mind-games. They also display greatly improved levels of motivation, as well as lower stress and anxiety levels, and greater job satisfaction. -  For trading businesses, they get far more deeply engaged employees, experience far better team-working and improved collaboration, cultivate stronger client relationships, and see an overall  improvement in risk culture among those coached.

Join some of the world’s leading Trading and Investment business in using our services. 
At Alpha R Cubed we work with many of the world’s leading investment banks and hedge funds, with clients in the US, Canada, throughout Europe, across the Far East, and in Australia and New Zealand. Clients include leading firms such as Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Credit Suisse, Societe Generale, HSBC, National Australia Bank, TD Securities, SEB, Swedbank, Gazprom, ENEL. We also work with several leading hedge funds (though confidentiality precludes us from mentioning their names).

Time for you to make the difference that will make a difference.

To find out more about us and our work, please call  or email us
+44 (0)207 993 5362 / +44 (0)775 344 6097
info@alpharcubed.com

Or visit our website at  www.alpharcubed.com

We look forward to talking to you.

Steven Goldstein
Managing Director
Alpha R Cubed Ltd
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Steven Goldstein is a leading Performance and Executive Coach working with Traders, Banks and Hedge funds: He is Managing Director at Alpha R Cubed, which works with banks and investment firms to improve their human capital within financial risk businesses. To know more about Alpha R Cubed, visit their website www.alpharcubed.com or email Steven at steven.goldstein@alpharcubed.com.

Steven also runs the 'Behavioural Trading' blog and newsletter. - To visit the blog and sign-up for the newsletter, visit http://traderbehaviour.blogspot.co.uk/

Follow Steven on Twitter and Linkedin. Join the flourishing LinkedIn group Trader, Trading & Risk Psychology.

To view our recent Webinar on How Understanding Risk Type Can Impact Trader Performance - Follow this link: http://traderbehaviour.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/how-understanding-risk-type-can-impact.html

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