Foreword by Clare Flynn Levy

Clare Flynn Levy, CEO & Founder Essentia Analytics

Clare Flynn Levy is CEO & founder of Essentia Analytics. Prior to setting up Essentia, she spent 10 years as a fund manager, in both active equity (running over $1bn of pension funds for Deutsche Asset Management), and hedge (as founder and CIO of Avocet Capital Management, a specialist tech fund manager).

The coronavirus pandemic is obviously a major health event on a global scale. But it also raises issues about how we respond and manage ourselves as individuals.

This is especially important in asset management, where good decisions are what we’re paid for, and the responsibilities we have to shareholders and investors are enormous. Resilience has never been more important.

We asked seven of our top performance coaching partners – who specialize in working with portfolio managers, traders, and investment leaders – for their top tips for building and maintaining resilience during these highly uncertain times.

I’ve been observing a very high level of resilience among Essentia’s portfolio manager clients: they are sticking to their investment processes and documenting their thought processes, as a matter of routine. But the tips below are useful to us all, regardless of how keenly we’re feeling the pressure.

Picture of Denise Shull, investment performance coach

Denise Shull
Investment performance coach & author
The ReThink Group

“BE STILL”

  • The human brain is a prediction machine. Our subconscious detects aspects of situations as if they were jigsaw puzzles. As events unfold, we generate semi-conscious probabilities and confidence levels in the implications of those possibilities. Right now, we’ve got a puzzle with pieces from three or four different boxes.
  • With this, there is always the temptation to act. Doing something assuages the anxiety of being unsure which piece fits where. For a moment, we feel better. That is until we just can’t find the piece after next.
  • So what can you do? I advocate stepping back. Step back and be still for many more moments than you normally would be.
  • Resist the temptation to act in what is really just a salve for feeling unsettled. Find what you are afraid of. Write it down. Yes, write down your list of “what is the worst that can happen?” Talk about it with a good listener. Then ask yourself what do you believe? We all too often forget that Markowitz said step one in asset allocation is knowing what you believe.

Picture of Andrew Menaker Phd - Investor Coach

Andrew Menaker Ph.D.
Clinical psychologist and investment performance coach
andrewmenaker.com

“A MINDSET OF GRATITUDE”

  • An environment of extreme uncertainty, high volatility, and increased news flow requires a higher degree of resilience to perform well.
  • An abundance of research shows that a mindset of gratitude significantly contributes to psychological resilience, and even physical health.
  • Gratitude is different to positive thinking. Positive thinking may be needed for goals, but it takes more than positive thinking to develop resilience in the face of extreme uncertainty.
  • Gratitude is grounded in reality, whereas, positive thinking is about what may or may not happen. Hope may be a good strategy for life; but for professional market participants hope is not an edge.
  • It may not be easy, but training your mind on aspects of life that you appreciate or are thankful for is an effective strategy to improve resilience.
  • Developing and maintaining resilience through gratitude is a powerful antidote for FOMO, and very helpful in risk management.
  • Develop a mindset of gratitude and you will gain a huge psychological edge for making decisions in highly uncertain environments.

Picture of Jane Coffey, Investor Coach

Jane Coffey
Investor coach and Essentia Insight Partner

“USE A JOURNAL TO GET PERSPECTIVE”

  • Journaling is an effective tool for gaining perspective and distance from more heightened feelings related to professional and personal performance. Reactions can seem unique and powerful in the moment but regular journaling and review can reveal patterns you may not be aware of. This kind of self-awareness can help you to avoid knee-jerk responses and build more resilience to stress.
  • Try to journal every day but I recommend devoting only a small amount of time to it when starting – eg 15 minutes. This will make it more likely you continue the activity over the following days and build it into a sustainable habit (at which point you can more confidently extend your journaling as you wish).
  • An extension/alternate form of journaling is to set a daily “worry window” where you write down a list of your worries. If you start dwelling on them at other times, tell yourself you can revisit them in your worry window and so move on with your day.

Picture of Nicholas Beecroft - Investment and Leadership Coach