The Neurodivergent Brain and Stock Trading: Embracing Neurodiversity as a Trader

The Neurodivergent Brain and Stock Trading: Embracing Neurodiversity as a Trader

Written by Katie Gomez

People with neurodivergent brains experience the world differently. Recently, the term ‘neurodivergent’ has become a popular descriptor for those diagnosed with Autism, ADHD, or other neurological conditions instead of labeling them as disabilities. Such individuals’ distinctive abilities can become evident advantages in stock trading.

Different thinking. Mental activity. Contrast in thinking. Vector illustration

As a stock trader diagnosed with ADHD, I’ve noticed both advantages and disadvantages of having a neurodivergent brain. This article will explore the unique experiences neurodivergent individuals may encounter in trading, offer helpful tips to leverage their unique cognitive processing, and illuminate how neurodivergence can indeed be a superpower in trading.

Misconceptions about neurodiversity

Neurodivergent brains aren’t structurally different. The divergence lies in the unique ways they process information compared to neurotypical brains. Although neurotypical traders are more prevalent in the stock market, neurodivergent individuals, once they overcome initial challenges, can form an impressive cohort of traders. 

Neurodivergent conditions, such as ADHD, dyslexia, OCD, and autism, are commonly considered disabilities but rarely are their advantages advertised as much as their handicaps. They are often consciously or unconsciously stigmatized and shamed as disorders or mental illnesses. Shifting this perspective from viewing them as ‘disorders’ or ‘mental illnesses’ to potential superpowers can enable individuals to better understand their cognitive processing and maximize their brain’s potential.

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Financial Hurdles 

Although they can make successful investors and traders, neurodivergent individuals tend to struggle with money management. They may need help with budgeting, reminders to pay bills, and stimuli reinforcement more so than their neurotypical counterparts. These hurdles, particularly impulsivity, can lead to thoughtless financial mistakes and overwhelm, resulting in a state of financial paralysis. For traders, this can be detrimental as ignoring the market or portfolio leads to missed opportunities and losses.

Thus, managing impulsive and intrusive thoughts becomes vital for neurodivergent traders. Emotional regulation is key to trading success as unchecked emotions can disrupt logical decision-making processes.

Tips for Success 

  1. Gamify the process to make it more enjoyable for the brain.
  2. Use automation tools and reminder apps, and log out of shopping apps to reduce overspending.
  3. When emotions are high, practice deep-breathing techniques—take five deep breaths to regulate your nervous system—aiding in impulsive urge control.
  4. Leverage accountability tools, mentors, and support networks to sustain portfolio growth.
  5. Maintain an organized, aesthetically pleasing workspace with minimal distractions.
  6. Choose a user-friendly brokerage platform like Trade Ideas
Portrait of Black Stock Market Trader Doing Analysis of Investment Charts, Graphs, Ticker Numbers Projected on His Face. African American Financial Analyst, Digital Entrepreneur Successfully Trading

Unlocking the superpower 

Now that we’ve exhausted the struggles and ways to manage them, let’s review how neurodivergent brains can learn to thrive as a trader by understanding the obstacles while embracing the benefits. 

Classic workplace environments can be overwhelming for neurodivergent individuals. Trading at home, however, allows for autonomy and encourages expansive thinking. Neurodivergents also tend to approach “work” differently than their neurotypical friends, seeking out unconventional ways to make money, approaching new or risky sectors, and focusing on how to work smarter and not harder.

People with ADHD and autism are most confident and work best in their own space, where they feel safe to enter a flow state. This flow state is powerful because it allows them to unlock the potential of the neurodiverse brain through hyperfocus. Hyperfocus is the phenomenon of locking into a task without distraction, donating more energy than neurotypical brains can in one sitting. This trait benefits traders, especially those who trade on shorter time frames, as it requires diligent focus. Additionally, neurodivergent brains are also incredibly skilled at multitasking, which is another requirement to be a successful day trader. 

Innovative idea in businessman hand.

Another advantage of the neurodivergent trading population is their ability to be creative and view things differently than others. This cognitive creativity opens the door for new opportunities others would not have picked up on. That said, it makes sense that the neurodivergent brain is also known as the innovative brain, as it is constantly creating new neural pathways and creative avenues that other neurotypical brains couldn’t recreate. 

An often underrated side effect of neurodivergent brains, ADHD specifically, is resilience. 

Given the differences in working memory and executive functioning, their brain has adapted to move forward from mistakes or incidents far more quickly than a neurotypical brain could. Although they might be prone to emotional outbursts or impulsive activity, they can shift to face the challenge head-on and move forward within moments. 

This persistence and resilience in the face of adversity also stems from the desire to find a future hit of dopamine that comes from working through and solving a problem. The neurodivergent brain is solution-oriented, ideal for stock traders who face problems to work through daily. 

a woman is engaged in stock trading

Michael Burry is a prime example of someone who learned to unlock the power of his neurodiverse brain and become one of the most successful and keenly aware traders. Burry’s success was not despite his Asperger’s but partially because of it. Although he struggled with social interactions involved with people, his passion and dedication to the analytical/numbers side of the process allowed him to thrive as a trader, making 100 million for his personal account and over 700 million for his investors (Borgman, 2012).

“Aspergers came into my life when I was forty years old…as I have gotten older, I have come to appreciate how my differences have turned out to include gifts that have set me apart.” 

-John Elder Robison (Be Different)

In conclusion, while neurodivergent traders may face unique challenges, they also possess unique advantages. If the neurodivergent community can gain a deeper awareness and understanding of their brain, they can learn to manage their impulsivity and poor executive function. Once accomplished, they’ll become better equipped to use their resilience, adaptability, open-mindedness, hyperfocus, and solution-oriented brain to quickly grow and evolve into an incredibly successful investor or trader. For more information on how to improve your trading psychology, visit Trade Ideas today.