Maybe successful traders really are giving you the finger?

Researchers at Cambridge University have found biology plays a part in successful financial trading. According to a report published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences:

digits_graphics To determine the traders’ prenatal testosterone exposure, the researchers measured their “2D:4D ratio,” which is the relative lengths of the index and ring fingers on the right hand. Those exposed to higher levels of testosterone in the womb tend to have relatively longer ring fingers. (Washington Post Graphic).

The study found that the length of a person’s ring finger, when compared to the index finger, could be a way to measure their exposure to male sex hormones or androgens before birth. Such exposure could boost both concentration and reflexes — attributes necessary in the high-stress atmosphere of the trading floor, they said.
After making their measurements, researchers followed 44 traders around a trading floor in London, finding that traders’ profits and losses over the previous year-and-a-half were in proportions to the size of their ring finger. They also found correlations in higher long term profits and the length of time the traders lasted in the industry, according to reports.

According to the study, “The success and longevity of traders exposed to higher levels of prenatal androgens further suggests that financial markets may select for biological traits rather than rational expectations.”

The Washington Post also reported on the study, called “Second to fourth digit ratio predicts success among high-frequency financial traders,” by John M. Coates, Mark Gurnell, and Aldo Rustichini.
These researchers have made some hay with this research in the past, by the way.