The Importance of Meditation for Investment Professionals

Categories: Leadership, Management & Communication Skills

Meditation is not a practice historically associated with the finance industry.

Yet with investing legends like Ray Dalio and Bill Gross, CFA, embracing the discipline and business schools adding it to their curriculum, it is becoming an increasingly meaningful tool in the investment toolkit.

Ng Kok Song, former group chief investment officer of the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC), and Jason Voss, CFA, discuss the value meditation can bring to investors, both personally and professionally, in a recent Take 15 interview.

“Meditation is about coming to a profound stillness of body and spirit,” Ng says. “This is not a new age phenomenon — when you meditate, we are entering a tradition . . . it’s important to understand that we are tapping into a wisdom tradition which has existed for thousands of years.”



One of the central components of meditation is the sounding of a word, or mantra, to center attention. “You will find that this is very challenging, because your mind is constantly distracted, it is constantly wandering,” Ng says. “The key to it is that as soon as you discover that you are distracted, and you are not sounding the mantra, drop whatever distracting thoughts they are and just humbly return to sounding the mantra faithfully.”

Ng says that understanding meditation as a discipline is crucial, and identifies three essential aspects to the practice. “First of all, there is the discipline of committing the time [to] meditation every day; secondly, there is the discipline of learning to sit still; and thirdly, the discipline of humbly sounding the mantra and being content to sound it, leaving behind all thoughts.”

According to Ng, by allowing one to emerge with a clear mind, meditation can help investment professionals — and anyone who practices it — see the underlying truth of their situations. He says that by meditating “we are transcending our ego, we are transcending our habitual mode of self-centeredness,” adding that the key is “not to perceive meditation as a complicated technique, as an esoteric practice — it is radically simple. It is so simple that a child of five years old can do it. A very old person who has dementia can also meditate.”

If you’re interested in meditation, join the LinkedIn CFA Inititute Members Meditation Group [Note: you must be a Member of CFA Institute to join].

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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.

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17 comments on “The Importance of Meditation for Investment Professionals

  1. Billy Ethridge said:

    An extremely simple, yet well done, dialog on meditation in-and-of itself, and its value in the finance industry, between Ng Kok Song and Jason Voss, CFA. Both the text and video are worth repetitive viewing.

  2. Pingback: The Importance of Meditation for Investment Professionals | Meditation Goals
  3. Wonderful! Teaching in San Francisco last week of August a 20 min twice a day practice for those wishing to learn Meditation with a mantra and teacher.

  4. Very interesting prompt to look further into meditating. Considering that the people who read the CFA blog are usually busy and practicing time management, how about some tips on fitting meditation into a busy life?

    Thanks for the article.

    • Hello Aidan,

      More on this to come! Thank you for your thoughtful comment and for taking the time out of your day (time management, of course) to express your sentiment.

      Yours, in service,

      Jason

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  8. Kuldeep said:

    Thanks for the article. Currently I’m a financial broker and we all know what does it feels like to play with numbers whole time.
    Any suggestions to feel relaxed by meditation will be appreciated.
    Thanks

    • Hello Kuldeep,

      You are very welcome for the piece. Tips on how to meditate? It is a great question and a difficult one to answer succinctly. Why? Because meditation is such a vast area of study. However, I do like the materials that can be found at http://www.headspace.com. Keep at it. Like anything it takes practice : )

      Best wishes for success!

      Jason

    • Hello Kenneth,

      Thank you for sharing your comment. I am a big fan in doing what rejuvenates you – as many of my posts here on Enterprising Investor attest.

      The neuroscience behind it all, says that in all likelihood you are achieving, not just quietude, but meditation as well : ) In this case, alpha brainwave states, as opposed to the more common beta brain wave states.

      Not sure if you practice meditation or not. But a practice is portable, and it also allows even greater benefits than those found in activities that rejuvenate you. Read: you can get to theta and delta states, too, with practice.

      Yours, in service,

      Jason

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