12 Bizarre Things Wall Streeters Do To Be Better Traders
|July 28th, 2014, 07:45 PM||#1 (permalink)|
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12 Bizarre Things Wall Streeters Do To Be Better Traders
Wall Street has gone to some extreme lengths to get rich. In the hyper-competitive environment, everyone needs to be smart, fast, and ruthless.
Ask any trader, and they might have their own ideas about how to get an edge on everyone else beyond just hard work.
We're talking about stuff that borders on the superstitious. From group habits to strange idiosyncrasies, Wall Streeters have opted for some unorthodox methods to try and improve their trading.
Here are some of the most bizarre things people have done, all in the name of the trade.
Eat the exact same thing for lunch every day.
A trader at Steinhardt, Fine, Berkowitz & Company, named Frank "Tony" Cilluffo, used to think that his lunch could directly correlated to the market.
When he was making money, Cilluffo would order the exact same lunch every day until the market turned. For two years, he ate only two toasted English muffins with jam for lunch. At the switch, he then went to cream-cheese-and-olive sandwiches for a long period of time.
Avoid that one unlucky bathroom stall.
A bond trader from the Chicago Mercantile Exchange said there was one bathroom stall at work he always avoided, because "It has a really good track record for losing money."
Avoid using red pens.
James Park, a trader at Brean Murray & Co. told CNNMoney that he never writes with a red pen, because red means loss. He said he also keeps his desk very organized. The more organized his desk is, the better his trades will fare.
A male trader might take female hormones.
In 2007, a former SAC Capital junior trader Andrew Tong filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the firm, in which he stated his boss Ping Jiang made him take female hormones as part of a "training program."
According to Jiang, this was to make his traders more effeminate and less aggressive at work. Tong said he then started taking female hormones he bought on the black market. He was fired in 2006 for losing $3 million in a failed trade.
Or a male trader might amp up his testosterone level.
According to CNBC, “aging traders and executives — and aging on Wall Street means 30 and up” are increasing their testosterone levels in order to stay in the game.
Testosterone levels tend to decline for men over the age of 30, making them feel “sluggish” with “muscle aches, belly fat, low stamina, low sex drive and lack of focus.”
By increasing testosterone levels, older traders aim to reverse these effects.
Build an aquarium.
In a bear market, one stock trader thought buying more fish might help his trades. Brett Gallagher, head of U.S. equities at Julius Baer told CNNMoney that after his fish died the market went down. He cited one portfolio manager who swore by his self-contained eco-system for his success, with shrimp and plants and the like.
Smoke weed during work.
A customer rolls a joint made of half marijuana and half tobacco to smoke inside of Frankie Sports Bar and Grill in Olympia, Washington.
One friend in trading listed smoking marijuana as a trick to better trading. It's supposed to soothe your nerves, and help calm you down at work.
Avoid trading stocks with cute names.
Josh Brown from The Reformed Broker blog said avoiding cutesy stock names, such as EAT, HOG, MOO, LUV, COOL, FUN, and others, is one superstition passed around Wall Street.
Keep lucky inanimate objects.
In "Trader: The Documentary," Paul Tudor Jones whips out a couple of good luck charms on the trading floor, including an inflatable Godzilla to "ward off all the bears back into their dens," and a pair of tennis shoes that once belonged to Bruce Willis.
"These tennis shoes, the future of this country hangs on them," Jones said. "They've been good for a point rally in bonds and about a thirty-dollar rally in stocks every time I put them on."
Don't sell when your stock is passing $90.
Some traders will hold off on selling stock as it increases past $90 every time, because of the belief that if a stock passes $90 per share, it will almost always make it to $100.
According to Josh Brown, although there is little evidence to confirm this theory, some Wall Street veterans still follow it faithfully.
Play a high stakes game for hours.
Hedge fund manager John Meriwether started the Arbitrage Group at Salomon in 1977. He would have all his employees play liar's poker for hours, believing it honed their instincts and made them better traders. Bets could run up to tens of thousands of dollars, and they kept an envelope with hundreds of single bills on hand.
Some thought all the Arbitrage traders became addicted to betting on anything. "You could never go out to dinner with J.M.'s guys without playing liar's poker to see who would pick up the check," Salomon's CFO said.
Never trade on certain superstitious days.
Brown also names a couple superstitious days that traders avoid:
“Never buy or sell on the third Friday of the month which is when monthly stock options expire. And no matter what you do, stay away from everything on the four Triple Witching days of the year, when stock option, stock index options and stock indexes futures all expire together,” he wrote on his blog.
BONUS: Two traders built a robot that trades on numerology and astrology.
In 2012, Jim Hunt and Shing Tat Chung created an automated trading system that traded based on lunar phases and unpopular numbers. Named "Sid the Superstitious Robot," it would never trade anything to do with the number 13, and sells like crazy during a full moon. New moons are great though, according to Sid.
The robot also has the ability to generate new beliefs, based on new correlations and patterns it discovers in human behavior.
Read more: Bizarre Ways To Be A Better Trader - Business Insider