You probably consider yourself to be a savvy, level-headed, well-informed investor. You're a financial executive, for goodness sakes.
While you may very well be all that, a new study shows that your investing behavior has little to do with anything else but your DNA. That is, if your portfolio has a cautious allocation and, say, you eschewed too many Internet stocks back in the late 90's, your prescience most probably arose from your genes, not that fancy MBA.
The study, conducted by finance professors at Claremont McKenna College and the University of Washington, looked at twins and their financial behavior. And, it concluded that genetics account for one-third, on average, and as much as 45 percent, of investor behavior. Other factors, such as age, gender, education, wealth and home ownership, explain only 5 percent to 10 percent of behavior.
The research studied close to 38,000 twins in Sweden and such things as their stock market participation, asset allocation and portfolio risk. And, in all three measures, the data showed a significantly higher correlation between identical twins than non-identical twins. Plus, correlation to a random sample of the population was close to zero.
One more finding: The average correlation of the behavior of twins raised apart was virtually identical to that of twins raised together.
The study doesn't conclude that business education is worthless, at least when it comes to investment decisions. But it does imply that you might take into account your mother's proclivity for stuffing her earnings under her mattress before considering your next stock purchase.