Steve Cohen’s Head Performance Coach Talks Portfolio Manager Mindset

As the PGA tour winds down and the Olympic Games approach, it seems only fitting to share some perspective on the investment world from a famous sports psychologist. Dr. Gio Valiente has worked with many of the top PGA Tour players to help them improve their mental game. A Yahoo Finance article from earlier this month describes what Valiente (who recently joined Steve Cohen’s $11 billion Point72 Asset Management as head performance coach) views as the similarities between coaching athletes and portfolio managers.

“Once you think you have all the answers,” Valiente says, “markets will punish you.” He says that open-mindedness is a trait that all successful portfolio managers share: “You have to be willing to pivot and adapt and grow as a human being.” But that doesn’t necessarily guarantee success, he says. “You can do everything right and if the market is in an unwind you’re going to lose money. As a golfer, you hit a perfect shot and the wind hits the ball and it’s going to go into the lake.”

He describes the “controllability” factor as one that can cause stress in any job and identifies discipline, patience and confidence as important fundamentals for portfolio managers.  He points out, “You know the great portfolio managers are wrong 46% of the time,” but emphasizes the importance of staying confident yet humble.

“There’s confidence through arrogance and confidence through humility. We practice confidence through humility.”