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April 30, 2001

Wall Street's Olympian Shrink: Even the most battered traders can make it through the recent market

By Sanford Wexler

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  • Wall Street's Olympian Shrink: Even the most battered traders can make it through the recent market

Ari Kiev is a shrink on a mission: helping traders achieve execution excellence.

"Most traders believe that getting into the zone' occurs when you have a hot streak,'" the rumpled Wall Street psychiatrist said during an interview at the New York offices of hedge fund SAC Capital Management. "I believe you can create that zone."

Kiev is the author of the best-selling book, "Trading to Win: The Psychology of Mastering the Markets," and the recently published sequel, "Trading in the Zone: Maximizing Performance with Focus and Discipline" (John Wiley & Sons).

Dr. Kiev is a trading coach' to several major broker dealers and hedge funds, including Salomon Smith Barney. He has also advised Olympic athletes.

Ciaran O'Kelly, head of equity trading at Salomon Smith Barney, says Dr. Kiev provides "a unique and invaluable insight into the psychological and emotional aspects of the business."

Last November, Dr. Kiev pumped up the trading troops on the Salomon desk with his motivational message.

"Traders will recognize themselves in his real-life anecdotes and case studies," O'Kelly said. "The lessons one can derive from his teachings will enable any trader to gain a competitive edge."

Olympic Committee

A graduate of Harvard College, Cornell Medical College and New York Law School, Dr. Kiev is known for his research on suicide prevention and for his treatment of depression. He was also the first psychiatrist on the U.S. Olympic sports medicine committee.

"I learned from these athletes what some of their tricks were to remain psychologically focused," Dr. Kiev said. "In talking with the athletes and applying my own principles, I developed techniques such as visualization, and the rehearsing of an event."

About ten years ago, Dr. Kiev became acquainted with the world of trading when Steve Cohen of SAC Capital Management, seeing similarities between trading and Olympic competition, invited him to consult with the traders at his hedge fund.

Competing in sporting events and trading have much in common. "It's about having control over yourself," Dr. Kiev said. "Having control over your strategies, the goals you set, and having control over your willingness to do the work even in the face of loss."

In his latest book, "Trading in the Zone," Dr. Kiev demonstrates how traders can improve profitability. The work includes several case studies based on the experiences of some of the Street's top-notch traders. Through their own words and commentary from Dr. Kiev, the book discusses the psychological and emotional issues that confront traders.

The book examines the obstacles that often hold back a trader from reaching his or her full potential: anxiety, fear of failure, negative self-image and greed.

Dr. Kiev provides a step-by-step guide on how to overcome these roadblocks and enter the zone: a state of mind where a pro can consistently achieve winning results, trade after trade, day after day, year after year.

Trading Strategist

Dr. Kiev thinks of himself as a trading strategist rather than as a psychiatrist. "I am not so interested in your childhood experiences," he said, "but more in what you are experiencing in context of the trade and what your emotional responses are."