024: Greg Davies on Behavioral Finance and Controlling Your Emotions When Making Trading Decisions
Greg Davies is Managing Director and Head of Behavioral Finance at Barclays. He joined the firm in December 2006 to develop and implement commercial applications drawing on behavioural portfolio theory, the psychology of judgment and decision making, and decision sciences.
Today Greg leads a global team of behavioural and quantitative finance specialists, and is responsible for the design and global implementation of Barclays’ Investment Philosophy.
Greg is an Associate Fellow at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School and his first (co-authored) book, ‘Behavioral Investment Management: An Efficient Alternative to Modern Portfolio Theory’, was published in January 2012.
He is co-curator and co-creator of Open Outcry – a reality opera based on the stock market trading floor.
Greg has authored papers in multiple academic disciplines, presents at academic and industry conferences, and is a frequent media commentator on Behavioural Finance. He is an Editorial Board Member of the Journal of Behavioural and Experimental Finance.
Greg studied at the University of Cape Town and obtained a degree in Economics, Philosophy and Finance. He followed this with an MPhil in Economics and a PhD in Decision Theory and Behavioural Finance from the University of Cambridge.
In this interview, Greg mentions and discusses:
Behavioral economics, behavioral finance, rationality, irrational behavior, heuristics, cognitive biases, system 1, system 2, homo economicus, trade-off, home bias, familiarity bias, risk, return, portfolio, efficient frontier, stochastic model, trading floor, noise, herding, bubbles, booms, bust, returns, standard deviation, deterministic model, decision theory, expected utility theory, mean variance and portfolio theory.
In this interview, Greg mentions:
Danial Kahneman, Amos Tversky, Terence Odean, Warren Buffet, Charlie Munger and Harry Markowitz.
Jon Elster and Amos Tversky.
Be multi-disciplinary. Look for links between fields. Be continuously curious.
Keep learning. Stay curious. Say ‘yes’ to things that are outside your comfort zone.
- what is Behavioral Economics/Finance
- the disconnection between economics and psychology.
- how Kahneman and Tversky were ‘swimming up-stream’ to bring common sense to economics.
- why viewing the world through biases is harmful to behavioral finance.
- why the ever-increasing list of biases may not be good for the behavioral finance field.
- about System 1 and System 2 as popularised by Daniel Kahneman.
- why it’s good to allow emotions to part of the portfolio decision-making process.
- how to acquire the emotional comfort you need for your long-term financial objectives.
- how to buy emotional insurance for your long-term investment portfolio.
- how to avoid costly short-term emotional mistakes.
- how psychometric tests can extract measures of financial personality.
- why a set of nudges are designed to help high net-worth individuals to make better decisions.
- how to build a tailored portfolio to meet your clients needs.
- why you should consider including expected anxiety into your portfolio building along with risk and return.
- what an opera experiment has to do with replicating the open outcry system of a trading floor.
- how music can control your emotions while trading markets.
- how Barclays Capital are improving the understanding of their clients by turning the lens on themselves.
Behavioral economics is the combination of finance theory and behavioral psychology. It’s about trying to understand how people actually do go about making financial decisions and, as a result, how we might make them better financial decisions.
Problems with Biases in Behavioral Finance:
- Biases are only often biases if you view them through the lens of what economic theory very narrowly and mathematically deems to be rational.
- There’s nothing irrational about having the need for a short-term immediate emotional comfort.
- A lot of deviations from narrow economic thinking are not irrational at all. They are perfectly reasonable. It is just that other people are bringing other objectives to bear on the decision.
- The other problem is the tendency to look at the world through a list of biases.
Classical Finance would typically remove irrational behavior from its theories and models. However, the position of Behavioral Finance is much more subtle. As humans, we need emotional comfort. We need to be comfortable with the decisions we make and with the portfolio we hold. There is nothing irrational about that.
Emotions are actually a very good source of information for us if we use them in a thoughtful way – Greg Davies
Farnam Street by Shane Parish
- Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
- Explaining Social Behavior: More Nuts and Bolts for the Social Sciences by Jon Elster
- Behavioral Investment Management: An Efficient Alternative to Modern Portfolio Theory by Greg Davies