Practical analysis for investment professionals
08 February 2013

Soft Skills for Finance: Tools for Decoding Your Personality and Work Style

A common theme in crafting New Year’s resolutions involves reinventing oneself. Perhaps that’s why most resolutions are doomed to fail if they haven’t “stuck” in the first month. Why not resolve instead to learn who you are and what makes you tick — warts and all?

A key step in developing emotional intelligence is to engage in self-awareness and self-reflection. Learning more about who you are enables you to more easily identify smaller and more concrete goals you wish to achieve over time. Personality inventories, temperament sorters, and career assessment tools like the examples below can help you along this journey, an investment in yourself that will pay many future dividends.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)

One of the most well-known and commonly used assessments in professional settings, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a pychometric questionnaire designed to measure pyschological preferences in how you perceive the world and make decisions. The MBTI sorts preferences into four dichotomies, resulting in 16 possible type combinations. These dichotomies are:

  • Extroversion (E) versus Introversion (I)
  • Sensing (S) versus Intuition (I)
  • Thinking (T) versus Feeling (F)
  • Judging (J) versus Perceiving (P)

There are a plethora of MBTI-based assessments available online, including this one, but the best way to take full advantage of this assessment is to use a certified professional experienced in administering and interpreting the results. If you are a CFA Institute member, please visit our Career Tools to access CenterMark, an assessment similar to MBTI.

Keirsey Temperament Sorter

Another commonly used instrument, the Keirsey Temperament Sorter is a self-assessed personality questionnaire designed to help people better understand themselves and others. While similar to the MBTI in that there are a total of 16 resulting possible type combinations, there are a variety of practical and theoretical distinctions between these instruments:

  • Keirsey’s model is based on the ancient temperament work of Hippocrates and Plato, whereas the MBTI draws from Jungian theory.
  • The MBTI focuses more on how people think and feel, whereas Keirsey’s model focuses more on observable behavior.
  • Keirsey’s model emphasizes the sensing/intuition dichotomy over the extraversion/intraversion dichotomy emphasized in the MBTI.

You can access a free sorter online along with a plethora of additional resources and workshops available at a cost.

The DISC Assessment

The DISC assessment is another useful inventory that helps you understand yourself and how others relate to you. It explores behavioral traits across four key dimensions from which the acronym is derived — dominance, influence, steadiness, and conscientiousness — and identifies a total of 15 possible patterns. These four dimensions are often plotted into a matrix that accounts for introverted versus extroverted aspects and task-focused versus social aspects.

A deeper explanation and example of how this assessment can be used to modify behavioral styles can be found in an earlier post. You can access a free version of this assessment online along with a variety of additional resources available at a cost.

Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI)

Similar to both the MBTI and DISC in its cognitive style and model, the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI) aims to measure and describe thinking preferences. Developed by William “Ned” Herrmann while working at GE, it identifies four different modes of thinking — analytical, sequential, interpersonal, and imaginative — and was influenced by left-right brain lateralization research and developed to serve as a metaphor for how people think and learn. The instrument typically results in categorizing your most dominant mode of thinking, but Herrmann purported that everyone uses all four modes to varying degrees in different situations. (At cost) resources are available online

Enneagram of Personality

The Enneagram of Personality, also referred to as simply Enneagram, is a model of personality based on nine interconnected types that are represented by the points of a geometric figure. While it is not based on psychological theory, it has been used in business contexts to gain insights into workplace and team dynamics, and can be a helpful tool for self-understanding. A free brief version of this assessment and additional (at cost) resources are available online.

Strong Interest Inventory

One of the most popular career assessment tools is the Strong Interest Inventory. It seeks to measure an individual’s interest in six areas (occupations, subject areas, activities, leisure activities, people, and your characteristics), and the scoring enables individuals to compare their interests with the interests of people in a given career field. Based on psychological research, this tool provides insight into your interests and helps map potential career choices and is helpful if you are considering a career change, seeking more satisfying work within your existing occupation/organization, or a student exploring career options.

If you are a CFA Institute member, please visit our Career Tools to access MatchPoint, an assessment similar to the Strong Interest Inventory.”

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All posts are the opinion of the author. As such, they should not be construed as investment advice, nor do the opinions expressed necessarily reflect the views of CFA Institute or the author’s employer.


About the Author(s)
Heather Packard

Heather Packard is the director of product development at CFA Institute and serves as the subject matter expert in leadership, management, and communication skills (LMCS). Previously, she was the managing partner at Trilogy Corporation of Virginia, where she was responsible for developing and cultivating a regional territory for telecommunications and network integration sales. Packard also served as the coordinator of collections for the Science and Engineering Libraries at the University of Virginia. She holds an BA in English and Spanish Literature from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and an MA in Spanish Literature from the University of Virginia. Topical Expertise: Leadership, Management, and Communication Skills

4 thoughts on “Soft Skills for Finance: Tools for Decoding Your Personality and Work Style”

  1. Many portfolio managers appear to fall into the INTJ category based on Myers-Briggs testing, yet INTJs represent a small percentage of the population. Interestingly, some studies suggest that a large proportion of people with Autism Spectrum Disorders share characteristics with INTJs. For examples of individual stories suggesting this connection, read Michael Lewis’ book “The Big Short”. Understanding the psychology of portfolio managers carries important implications for leaders.

  2. I’m excited to find this website. I need to to thank you for your time for this particularly wonderful read!!
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    1. Heather Packard says:

      Thanks so much for letting us know you enjoyed it, and so glad you’ve favorited the blog!

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