#Digitalskeptic: How a Trader Coach Turns Emotions Into Profit

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Robin Dayne feels that surviving today's demented digital markets is not about trading algos, market methodologies or even what stock or bond you buy.

"It's about your emotions," Dayne said. She's a professional life coach with a specialty in improving the performance of financial traders. And Dayne has been talking with me for the past few weeks on how to get the most out of those who put their livelihoods on the line trading in financial markets.

"It's your scars that shape your trading. The big losses. The bets that took you out," she warned. "They are what get you stuck."

Dayne has developed her own street-smart sense and sensibility about the dark emotions that turn good trades bad. After a career as a ballet dancer and marketing executive for the since-vaporized Digital Equipment Corp., she's been both a part-time financial trader and a trader's coach since the mid-1980s. And three of the thousand-plus clients she's said she's worked with over the years confirmed to me she acts as a sort of a golf-swing-meets-life-coach for their trading.

"I decided to take the plunge and trade full time on my own," Laila Rhodes, a client of Dayne's told me in a call from Swindon, England. "And I could not have done it without Robin's help."

Fees run between $750 and $1,500 an hour -- which, by the way, I was stunned to learn is cheap for such services. Some trading pros I spoke with, who tellingly did not want it known that they use such trading support, say six-figure annual fees, plus a fat cut of the gross, is not unheard of for a trading coach.

The digital-age meat grinder
It's sadly not surprising that it does not take much for Dayne to fill me in on the emotional wear and tear traders face in today's grueling digital age.

"Everybody is feeling terrible pressure in the commoditization of trading," she said. "The number of trades. The amount of information traders are expected to manage." Traders today suffer from loneliness and an almost relentless pressure to perform from spouses and bosses.

And they're on an almost inhumanly short lease when it comes to mistakes.

"Firms review performance each and every year," she said, "So even if you have a great past record, if you put a few bad months together and it can pretty much be over. It's brutal."

Survival, therefore, she says, is about being nimble enough to react to the markets as they are, in that exact moment.

"'What is really happening?' That is the question I am trying to get my clients to ask," she said. "Not what your fears tell you is happening. Those past emotions are the killers."

Getting traders Unblocked
Dayne, who like me is self-taught, has no advanced degrees in mental health, economics or financial modeling. Essentially, what she has done through two and a half decades of trial and error is develop an every-trader's riff on the complex field of neurolinguistics. That's the science of gaining a picture of our minds by how we use language. What happens, she says, is our minds are triggered by a past trauma to conjure up a dire situation that is not actually happening.

"The mind is trying to protect us by reminding us when we got hurt. For traders, that usually is some dollar threshold loss," she told me. "When that past pain is triggered by current events, you get blocked to the market as they are."

She uses basic occupational, taxonomic and movement therapy to address those past traumas. She argues this approach can expedite results over traditional cognitive and pharmaceutical remedies. And, at least according to the traders I spoke with, there is a real benefit.

"It's not like she's a shrink," said a trader, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of perceptions that outside advice weakened his value to his clients. "It's about not letting those skeletons creep back in."

A trader's lifeline
For sure, trading coaches such as Dayne raise serious issues. Though passionate, her autodidact nature can feel less than rigorous for those with backgrounds in mainstream mental illness. And traders should understand she has had bad days in the markets. Three times in the past 10 years she has faced significant losses with her trading.

"Those losses gave me the insight into the emotion all traders go through," she said. "Tiger Woods' swing coach does not play on the tour. I'm a coach first and a trader second."

Regardless, for information-overloaded traders seeking cover in today's digital storm, she, and coaches like her, offer a much needed lifeline to humanity.

"I love being able to get in there and help these people," she told me. "That's the rush I get when one of my clients gets unblocked."

This commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet guest contributor program. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of TheStreet or its management.

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