“To know wisdom and instruction; to understand the worlds of prudence.” That’s how King Solomon’s Book of Proverbs begins, and being able to do these things is key to creating a successful and prosperous life. But in the modern world of investing and finance, stress can compromise an investor’s ability to think clearly and make long-range plans. And as a string of recent suicides and mysterious deaths pf banking professionals suggest, stress might even kill you.
The death of the banker only known by his last name Li at Chase’s Hong Kong offices is only the latest in a series of similar incidents connected to Chase as well as other high-profile banking institutions. In January 2014, a Chase vice president also died after falling from the roof of Chase’s headquarters in London, and over the previous few months, several other financial professionals from a variety of investment and financial services also died under peculiar circumstances. One of them, a 21- year old Bank of America intern, died of apparent overwork after a week of not sleeping, which prompted the company to issue new edicts requiring employees to take vacations.
The average property investor following Jason Hartman’s guidelines for building wealth in income property is probably not likely to face those kinds of risks. After all, the world of investment banking is a fast paced, high stakes one where mistakes can cost millions and companies have high expectations for performance. But, say health professionals, investing can cause stress that can interfere with success on many levels.
Investing involves taking risks, making decisions and stepping into the unknown. People who emjoy the excitement of risk taking and uncertain outcomes may thrive on the short-term stress of trying out a new strategy. But for the more risk averse, those same things can be stressful.
A new study points out that short term or chronic stress causes the body to release hormones that stimulate short term, not long term thinking. That helps people to stay focused on the task at hand. But those same hormones inhibit the brain’s neuroplasticity – the facility to learn new things, adapt to change and reflect on events. In an ironic twist, the very things that help us function in a high pressure environment can sabotage long-term productivity.
What’s more, relentless stress about decisions and their outcomes can create a kind of paralysis that leaves people helpless to choose a direction or make any decisions at all. And it can lead to a feeling of impotence and being trapped in circumstances. The answer? Along with the obvious – step away from the source of the stress – healthcare experts suggest making time for relaxation and meditative activities, and making conscious effort to become aware of the body’s signals of stress.
No one may ever know what drove Li, the young banker in Hong Kong, to jump to his death – or why several of his professional colleagues also ended up dead. But even the smallest investor might do well to stay mindful of the risks of the investing world and take steps to keep stress from making another killing in the markets. (Top image: Fickr/rutio)
“33-Year=Old Banker Leaps To His Death From JP Morgan’s Hong Kong Headquarters, Latest in a String of Apparent Suicides.” FP Street. Financial Post. Financial Post.com. 18 Feb 2014
Packard, Heather. “Is Too Much Stress Killing Your Portfolio?” Enterprising Investor. CFAInstitute.org. 2 July 2013
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