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Total Posts: 11
Joined: Apr 2016
Posted: 2018-02-07 19:05
I have been a prop trader for 10 years, and running my own strategy/firm for 5.
I find the stress crippling. The fact that all the hard work that went into research and implementation of my strategy can be negated by bad luck wears on me constantly; it is a cloud that hangs over my good times as well.
How do others deal with the inherent probabalistic nature of our profession?


Total Posts: 51
Joined: Nov 2013
Posted: 2018-02-07 21:08
Here are a few things that I've found to help over the years.

1. Surround yourself with colleagues who have a basic intuition for games of probability (I prefer Catan over poker). Even your non-traders/researchers. It's easy to manage your own mood, it's much harder to cope with someone else whose mood is correlated with luck. Have a board game night or something occasionally.

2. Keep picking up new hobbies that have a deterministic, fast reward feedback loop. Learn a new language, a sport, software framework etc.

3. Keep development on schedule. It's tempting to work harder as compensation when a promising direction of research fails, but there's a hard constraint on amount of time you have each week.

4. Minimize other sources of stress. For me, the largest sources of stress I have outside of work are context switching and decision making. Konmari your home and make it look like it came out of an interior design magazine for contemporary minimalistic Scandinavian homes, so you don't have any distractions at home, e.g. remembering where you left your keys. Having a kid is a large source of context switching so you can feed your kid sleeping pills.

5. Socialize with people outside of finance. I feel an odd sense of peace hearing the issues that people outside our line of work have to deal with.

If none of the above apply to you, if you have a Bloomberg keyboard or IPC turret, I found that picking it up and smashing it usually relieves stress. Extra points for doing it when everyone is in the office.


Total Posts: 986
Joined: Jun 2007
Posted: 2018-02-08 00:05
Working out is IMO absolutely mandatory. Mix mesium/low intensity -medium duration work with an occasional brisk but very challenging work out.

A healthy dose of easy basic endurance/steady state training (if you are untrained a hard walk also counts) , best done outdoors, and basic strength training.

Keep in mind this adds another stressor to your body. But at least one your body is made for.

Ich kam hierher und sah dich und deine Leute lächeln, und sagte mir: Maggette, scheiss auf den small talk, lass lieber deine Fäuste sprechen...


Total Posts: 71
Joined: Nov 2010
Posted: 2018-02-08 15:06
I especially agree with rukarin's point 3. If you become a creature of habit and routine, the stress will be less.

Also, walks outside in a nature setting have been shown to decrease stress (stress defined appropriately) and increase your attention/focus. So don't walk down a city street, but find a park with trees to stroll though.


Total Posts: 76
Joined: Sep 2015
Posted: 2018-02-08 17:37
the only thing i don't see mentioned here is to diversify your income if possible.

what i find most stressful is that a lot of my wealth is correlated to my signal research and the success of those signals.

i have recently started research projects to invest in other uncorrelated things. those leisure research projects feel more creative and less constrained. additionally, the other research uses new packages/math that i may not think about very often.


Total Posts: 986
Joined: Jun 2007
Posted: 2018-02-08 17:56
conatngo_and_cash is obviously right

I do trade/invest on the side. But do data science/software engineering/operations research stuff as a job.

Maybe you could start to do it the other way round? look for consulting gigs etc?

Ich kam hierher und sah dich und deine Leute lächeln, und sagte mir: Maggette, scheiss auf den small talk, lass lieber deine Fäuste sprechen...


Total Posts: 361
Joined: Dec 2008
Posted: 2018-02-08 18:41

- manage energy, get rest, eat right, exercise

- always breathe correctly (surprising how easy it is to allow yourself to breathe incorrectly...actually the common circumstance for most)

- be aware of internal states, gain the skill of adjusting them
- first step is to label them, understand relationships between them
- when you are in a lower state, use a hinge state to adjust

Attached File: Doc1.pdf

The diagram is pretty hokey, and the mindfulness industry can give you matrices with dozens of internal states, but the concept is simple and effective.

If you find yourself frustrated, irritated, anxious, defensive, judgmental, depressed, etc...use curiosity to adjust...start asking yourself questions.

For some reason the mind can't simultaneously investigate and be in (of?) those negative states. Questioning can act like a hinge or a pivot...then you can start thanking the universe for everything, etc.

Also genuine questions are a neutral way to remain active when you are in stressful situations with other people...they allow us to triangulate, all work on the issues together.

This works (surprisingly) for me.


Total Posts: 1113
Joined: Feb 2007
Posted: 2018-02-08 20:22
Exercise is huge. I've kept in shape most of my life; powerlifting, kickboxing, jiu jitsu, kettlebells. As I get older, cardio exercise has become more important; swimming in particular has been fun, even though I am terrible at it. Long walks in nature are good unless you live in an extremely crowded area (I do); walking behind some loud jackass talking about his stock options is stressful.

As ridiculous as it may sound, I took up painting after reading Churchill's essay "painting as a passtime." It's a really nice hobby for a mathy person as it exercises the spatiotemporal part of the brain in a completely different way. It also allows me to sperg out on medieval painting techniques and pigments (I picked egg tempera as a medium, as I live in a small apartment). Prior to that I was fooling around with metal work, but hunching over a clockmaker's lathe isn't as satisfying as painting. I think painting is one of those things that allows you to feel like life is progressing in a good direction even when the rest of your world is falling apart. Lifting weights was like that for me in late grad school (when I started), but you can only make steady progress for so long. Like Rurarkin's #2 item.

Another thing which lowers stress; schedule the shit out of everything, make TODO lists. Know what you're going to be doing on a day to day basis. Even if you work on your TODO for a half hour in the morning, it reduces stress greatly.

"Learning, n. The kind of ignorance distinguishing the studious."


Total Posts: 306
Joined: Feb 2014
Posted: 2018-02-08 20:50
- don't risk things you are not prepared to lose, sometimes it's good to take a step back and revisit decisions if you are feeling that you are risking too hard then probably doing something wrong
- minimize variance as far as possible
- exercise is a king for me: squash, but tennis is also good for older people; get yourself a trainer as it will force you to have a schedule; competition sports are good as are challenging (hate running and things like that)

Time well wasted.
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