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Longer fingers point to bigger profits

Researchers at Cambridge University have found a link between the profitability of male traders at a London bank and the ratio of index to ring fingers on their right hand.

The so-called 2D:4D ratio is a biological marker indicating pre-natal exposure to high levels of testosterone in the womb. In a study to be published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a US journal, the research team - led by former Deutsche Bank trader John Coates - found that the longer the fourth digit in relation to the second, the more money the traders are likely to make.

The results apply only to pumped-up high-frequency traders, who make their money by rapidly switching market positions in an effort to take advantage of artificial pricing anomalies.

The same research team last year also found that traders who started their days with elevated testosterone made more money than those who didn't.

The practical value of the research as a trader recruitment aid is questionable.

By coincidence, another University of Cambridge research team yesterday reported that high levels of testosterone in the amniotic fluid surrounding the foetus in the womb may serve as an early warning signal for autism, raising the prospect of future genetic screening. The 2D:4D principle has similarly been found to be a possible marker for the condition.

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Paul Penrose

Paul Penrose

Head of Research

Finextra

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