Do Psychopaths Make Good Hedge Fund Managers?

by Derek Loosvelt | October 24, 2017

  • My Vault
wall street

Although corporate psychopaths tend to get promoted more often than their peers, they don't make better investment decisions.

According to a study of 101 hedge fund managers by psychology professors from the University of Denver and Cal Berkeley, psychopathic traits (lack of empathy, lack of a conscience, enjoying the pain of others) and investing prowess have a negative correlation.

The most “psychopathic” managers had the worst investment records. Those who ranked in the top 16 percent on the psychopathy scale lagged the average by 0.88 percent per year. Narcissistic managers, meanwhile, turned in mediocre returns, but their clients had to endure more volatility to get them, according to the study. That might be because narcissism, associated with overconfidence, causes fund managers to stick longer with ideas that just aren’t working, ten Brinke said.

And so, it pays to hire investment managers who aren't narcissistic, who work well with others, and who don't relish in the pain of their colleagues.

Also of note: this study followed a similar one done in 2016 by the same psychologists.

Last year, ten Brinke, Keltner, and others did a similar analysis of U.S. senators. They found that the more psychopathic senators had fewer co-sponsors of their bills.
“There’s good research to suggest psychopaths are poor leaders,” ten Brinke said. “If you put someone with psychopathic traits [in charge] of a group, they’re more likely to divide the group.”

And so, don't vote for superfically charming, shallow, impulsive, guiltless, pathological liars with poor behavioral controls who lack empathy and a conscience and who continually fail to accept responsibility for their actions.

 

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Speaking of Washington, D.C., the city was one of 238 places to submit proposals to become Amazon's second headquarters. The beauty contest for Amazon HQ 2 ended earlier this week, and now it's all in Bezos and Co.'s hands to decide on the winner (which will be announced in 2018). Here's what the massive tech firm is looking for in its new HQ:

Amazon has said it would consider factors such as the availability of software developers and other tech talent, good transportation options, cultural fit—recreational opportunities are a metric—and the ability to move into a phase-one site as early as 2019. Other items on its wish list: a metro area of more than one million people and tax incentives such as breaks, abatements, credits and rebates.

So will Austin "Keep It Weird" Texas get 50,000 new high-earning taxpayers? Or will a big city like Chicago or Boston nab the new tech talent? Maybe a long shot like Nashville, Detroit, or Gary, Indiana, will get the nod? Newark and Puerto Rico are contenders, too.

My money for Amazon HQ 2 is on Billy de Blasio's Silicon Alley, even though many observers of the contest make a good point by saying D.C. or Baltimore is a lock, pointing to Amazon Chief Bezos having recently set up his family in the D.C. area, presumably to be closer to his news empire.

As for my favorite offer to Amazon during the bidding process, this Georgia city is far and away the winner.

Stonecrest, Ga., located near Atlanta, voted to de-annex 345 acres of land to use it to form the city of Amazon—if it wins the bidding war. “There are several major U.S. cities that want Amazon, but none has the branding opportunity we are now offering this visionary company,” said Mayor Jason Lary, according to the city’s website.

 I say it's my favorite due to the Who's on first? opportunities it presents:

"Where do you work?"

"Amazon."

"I know that but where?"

"Amazon."

"I mean which city?"

"Amazon."

"I know you work for Amazon. Do you work in Seattle, San Francisco ..."

"Amazon."

 

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With respect to the future, and the future of technology, in case you haven't seen it, the recent Money Issue of The New Yorker has a pretty brilliant cover. It depicts several robots walking on a city street, one carrying a coffee, one holding a cell phone, one walking a mechanical dog, and one carrying a lunchpail and flipping some change to a bearded millennial sitting cross-legged on the ground.

Here's the cartoonist speaking about his futuristic cover: 

“I’m not too worried about machines replacing cartoonists,” the artist R. Kikuo Johnson says, about his cover for the Money Issue. Johnson may have switched from drawing with ink, brushes, and paper to using a stylus and a digital tablet, but he isn’t worried that computers will take over the rest of his cartooning process. “When robots are advanced enough to be neurotic, then maybe I’ll be concerned,” he said, “though I don’t think too many of us choose this field for job security, anyway.”

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Filed Under: Finance | Technology | Workplace Issues

Tags: amazon | cartoonist | corporate psychopaths | hedge funds | investment management

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