Wanna Be A Great Trader? Size Matters... Finger Size

Tyler Durden's picture

Take a moment and look at your hands. Specifically, compare the length of your ring finger to the one you use to point.  Is the ring finger longer or shorter than your pointer, and by how much?  It turns out that the answer to that question can tell a lot about your mental abilities and appetite for risk. As ConvergEx's Nick Colas details, a 2009 study of mostly male traders working in London found that the ones with longer ring fingers were generally more profitable than those with shorter ones. Traders with the largest fourth finger/second (pointer) finger ratios actually made 11 times more than those with the smallest. 

Via ConvergEx's Nick Colas,

A 2012 study of entrepreneurs in Italy showed that highly successful female entrepreneurs tended to have longer ring fingers as well.  Researchers believe that the causal link between digits on your hand and in your bank account goes all the way back to the womb.  No, finger length is not the only thing that makes you successful in this business.  But it clearly doesn’t seem to hurt.

Occasionally I happen upon a theme for one of these notes that seems to stretch well into the distant horizon of the unbelievable.  This is one of those days.  Still, at ConvergEx we follow the data wherever it leads and we also have an abiding respect for the scientific process.  So buckle up – here goes.

The length of your ring finger relative to your pointer digit is a useful proxy for a whole host of personality traits and aptitude for the world of high finance.  So take a look at your hand, and check to see which is longer.

If your ring finger is longer than your pointer, then:

You are likely a better athlete than your peers.


You tend to be more physically aggressive, regardless of gender.


You take more risks.  If you are an entrepreneur (male or female), you have a greater chance of succeeding.


If you are a woman, may well have knee problems.


If you are a man, have an increased chance of oral and prostate cancers.


If you are taking the SATs soon, expect to do better on the math section.  Conversely, if your pointer finger is longer, expect to rock the verbal parts of the exam.

The science behind these observations, some of which date back many years, is relatively recent.  It turns out that the way your fingers develop is closely tied to your exposure to specific hormones during pre-natal development.  In 2011, researchers at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Florida managed to isolate the exact process by which the exposure to estrogen and testosterone governs the growth of fingers.  Males have testosterone receptors in their digits, so the more they get the longer the fourth finger grows.  Block the receptors, and you get shorter fourth fingers.  Pump in more testosterone, and you get longer ones again.  The experiments that yielded these results were done with mice, by the way.

The upshot is that longer fourth fingers are the result of greater exposure to testosterone in utero, and this has other developmental implications beyond digit length.   Larger doses of this hormone tend to promote better spacial relations during the key learning years, but also correlate to more aggressive personality types.  When it comes time to take standardized tests like the SATs, young men with longer fourth fingers tended to excel in math.  Those with smaller fourth/second finger length ratios tended to be better at the verbal parts of the test.  Yes, I know all this feels like a lecture from Larry Summers, but (again) all the studies backing up these assertions appear at the end of this note.  It does, however, raise the question: is Larry’s fourth finger longer than his second?  Inquiring minds want to know.

Let’s move onto safer and more familiar ground: success as a day trader.  In 2008 researchers John Coates, Mark Gurnell and Aldo Rustichini parked themselves at a London based prop shop and measured the finger lengths of 49 traders.  Then they examined how successful these people were at fast-paced trading.  Here is what they found:

The larger the ring finger relative to the pointer, the more profitable the trader on average.  The R-squared was 48%, an amazing result for a one-variable analysis.


The traders with the largest 4th/2nd finger ratios did 11x better than those with the smallest ratios. 


The researchers offer two explanations, and their data supports both.  One is that those traders with longer ring fingers are able to productively process higher levels of testosterone.   The amount of the hormone varied day to day by subject, but long-fourth-fingered subjects could take advantage of it when it happened along and use it to boost their confidence. The other explanation is that individuals with longer fourth fingers have superior pattern recognition abilities under pressure, a byproduct of the presence of higher testosterone levels in utero.  Put both explanations together and you get a plausible explanation for the fourth-finger effect.

Taken across its full spectrum, this whole analysis is a bit uncomfortable – full of gender stereotypes and nature/nurture debates.  Well, I never wanted to be Harvard’s president anyway.  Still, it is hard to turn away from the numerous studies on the topic and ignore them.  The authors of the traders study do point out that there is far more to success than just finger measurements, and that is fair enough.  But that this one simple metric can explain half a trader’s success is pretty dramatic.

And consider this – my own fourth finger is meaningfully longer than my second.  I should be home by now – markets closed hours ago.  But here I am, writing this note rather than planning tomorrow’s trades.  The only thing my own fourth finger is good for is typing the letters on the outer fringes of the keyboard.  Guess it really doesn’t work all the time.









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no life's picture

The thumb is important too... so they can stick it up their butt all day long.

NotApplicable's picture

It's sad that he has to add so many disclaimers when explaining biology.


Pladizow's picture

What if you just have one really fat finger???

I am more equal than others's picture



I have a longer ring finger than pointer but a small penis. 

I guess size where it matters counts!


Mistress Raindrop's picture

I have fat fingers.  I was born lucky that way.  Bitches.

Jay_Son's picture

Ya, and if your palm is bigger than your face, you have cancer.

Boris Alatovkrap's picture

This is only prove successful broker is more frequently to spend romantic evening with hand.

SafelyGraze's picture

long pinocchio nose is also a good indicator

with deep brown around the tip

lotsoffun's picture

are you conjuring timmie boy geithner here?

max2205's picture

A good brain only needs the index finger to press the buy or sell button

Pladizow's picture

What if you just have one really fat finger???

Urban Roman's picture

You use it to hit the 'save' key on the ZH comment box.

NidStyles's picture

You can hit it twice apparently. 


zerozulu's picture

I remember a person many many years ago, who, successfully predicted by just looking photo copy(xerox) of the runner's hands, who will be the first, second and third winner of the race.

Slave's picture

Goddamnit, 4th finger is longer on my left hand and shorter on my right. Fuck!!! Somebody tell me what this means!!!!

RaceToTheBottom's picture

It depends on whether you are right handed or not, but one thing that is very clear, It means that at most you should be trading Government bonds.

Antarctico's picture

I'm more concerned with the length of my sixth finger.

holmes's picture

It means you are right-handed and pick your nose a lot.

Sokhmate's picture

For some, it's the pinky that ends up the longest.

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

Chances are you're a Hermaphrodite:

Guys have longer ring fingers than index fingers.
Women have longer index fingers than ring fingers.

p.s. That "woman" that you're with, who has a longer index finger... is a guy. Calibrate your expectations accordingly.

dvfco's picture

Seriously, wasn't there a study done about a decade ago that correlated to length of two of men's fingers with the probability that they would be homosexual?  Does anyone remember that, or do I have to go clicking around the Internet for 1/2 hour to try to find it?  I'm not kidding.  I remember it because the study came out right about the same time an in-law of mine came out of the closet.  Coincidence? Uhm, yeah, probably, I guess so.

dvfco's picture

I was right.  Here's an entire blog dedicated to that exact subject.  I haven't read it yet, but I'd guess the homosexual fingers are the opposite of the trader/entrepreneur's.  I say this because trading desks all seem like testosterone pits and I don't know any brokers who snap and say, "Hated it" when talking about the most recent FOMC report.  Here's the site:  http://fingerlengthdigitratio.wordpress.com/2008/10/19/your-finger-length-and-your-sexual-preference/

IrritableBowels's picture

Compare that data against pictures of moochelle's hands.

Not joking.


kareninca's picture

"That "woman" that you're with, who has a longer index finger... is a guy."

You mean longer ring finger.

They did a study in SF years ago  -  women with long ring fingers were far more ikely to be dykes, than women with short ring fingers.

I have a great set of finger reminders in front of me  -  when this sort of data came out many years ago, I looked at my short ring fingers and realized that I wasn't going to be making it in management, Wall Street, the military.  Oh, well.

OldPhart's picture

My longest finger, on both hands, is the middle finger.


Must be due to all the exercise over the years.

wee-weed up's picture



The appetite for risk and the longer ring finger probably correlates to the guy continually yanking off his wedding ring upon meeting a hot chick in a bar.

As to the mental abilities for always doing this - that's debatable considering some of the bar-skanks these guys hook up with.

wee-weed up's picture

Looks like someone didn't like me disparaging his sister.

ACP's picture

You forgot daughter.

Yeah, badaboom. Big badaboom!

ParkAveFlasher's picture

Yo gramma one slutty-ass bitch, bitchez!  Where my ring at?

wee-weed up's picture



According to the recent "junk & run" increase from one, it looks like even more low-lifes are offended by my calling their loose female relatives "bar-skanks."

Oh, how the truth bites!

Mr Pink's picture

I guess the wookie must be a great trader....and a dude

JLee2027's picture

Michelle's fingers indicate she is a he in disguise.

NickVegas's picture

Michele has an enormous ring finger. Check it out. I 'm still on the fence, but a preponderance of evidence is just that.

koperniuk666's picture

i think it is possibly a testosterone issue. girls with longer ring finger have bigger piss flaps too.


i dont understand why it is surprising that we are differnet,,,

unless you have been indictrinated with the idea that we are all the same....?


sidiji's picture

or up their boss's butt which explains the higher salary

pods's picture

You know what they say about a man with big hands?

He wears big gloves.


FiatFapper's picture

Asinine diatribe.

icanhasbailout's picture

Well, of course - that's the one you use when you bend over a muppet

debtor of last resort's picture

That London Whale dude, those fingers, you should have seen those fingers when he hit the buy button. Awesome!

swmnguy's picture

Now that is a fantastic website.  Bookmarked.

Scarlett's picture

I wonder whether food inflation might correlate with boating accidents

BrosephStiglitz's picture

Probably not, but it might correlate by banker deaths by nailgun.

Mad Muppet's picture

wow, talk about spurious correlations...



my newest favorite WTF site.

NoDebt's picture

Stupid article but it reminds me of one of my favorite brags:  "OK, but I want you to know I'm only going to take out enough of it to win this bet."