Practical analysis for investment professionals
29 September 2016

How to Improve Your Memory

Posted In: Economics

How to Improve Your Memory

Memory training expert Chester Santos thinks the proliferation of apps and devices that put all sorts of information at our fingertips may counterintuitively make memory even more important.

Santos avoids using memory assistants like calendars and technology as crutches because recalling information will always be more impressive than looking it up.

“When someone has a razor-sharp memory, we perceive them to be more intelligent,” Santos said during a Take 15 interview with Lauren Foster. “And we always want to do business with, we’re always going to refer, those professionals we perceive to be the most intelligent.”

Impressing clients isn’t the only reason financial professionals should train their memories. Santos lists improved presentation preparation, better name recall for networking, and having ready reference to more facts and figures among memory training’s other benefits.



Though Santos admits he always had a good memory, the 2008 USA Memory Champion was nowhere near a competitive level when he started training. By focusing on sharpening their skills, even those with spotty memories can improve.

“People with the CFA don’t need to memorize a deck of cards in less than 90 seconds,” Santos said. “But for business purposes, anyone can achieve the level of memory skills they would need.”

There is a series of three steps he recommends for better memorization:

  1. Visualize what you’re trying to remember as a vivid image or series of images.
  2. Involve as many senses as you can. Think smells, sounds, textures. This activates more regions of the brain and forms more connections to the information.
  3. Make what you are imagining as unusual as possible: We’re all better at remembering strange and surprising things.

When memorizing a name, Santos tries to create an image based on a distinctive part of the person’s appearance. When he meets people, he repeats their names while introducing himself, asks a question while addressing them by name, forms a connection between the name and something else he knows, and says good-bye by name. Each step helps lock in the image.

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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.

Image credit: CFA Institute

About the Author(s)
Matthew Borin

Matthew Borin was an intern at CFA Institute. He was pursuing a bachelor's degree in economics from Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts.

2 thoughts on “How to Improve Your Memory”

  1. Bob says:

    It is true that we use to think that people with good memory are smarter, now, the ability to remember names for networking is vital in a very competitive economical sector.

    The tips listed here are amazing! I followed a short-course on how to improve your memory and that’s exactly what I learnt (and had to pay to learn!) vivid and strange are key to remember things and we should use that as a tool to help us improve our skills.

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