Does Your Career Actualize Your Self?

At one level, the trading of financial markets is one of the most selfish and materialistic pursuits imaginable. After all, the goal is to succeed by making money–and more money and more money. Little wonder that media stereotypes of hedge fund managers, from the movie Wall Street to the more recent Billions, feature predatory characters who will do almost anything in the pursuit of the almighty dollar.

As a performance psychologist who works closely with traders and portfolio managers in the world of finance, I find the stereotype surprisingly misplaced. Again and again, I’ve seen among highly achievement-oriented money managers an unusual interest in pursuits beyond the self.

Sometimes this takes the form of taking on younger talent and training them; sometimes their efforts are devoted to the creative investigation of markets to detect patterns amidst complexity; sometimes they become passionately interested in utilizing the fruits of successful investment to support worthy causes.

When I first encountered the group Traders4ACause, I couldn’t imagine young daytraders being interested in altruistic pursuits. Every year, however, they host a large conference, blending teaching and learning with giving to charitable causes.

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