What is it that separates investing gurus like Warren Buffett from everyone else? Good genes, according to a new study.
A study that compared the investing behavior of twins and the general population has concluded that nature plays a far larger role in the way someone invests than factors such as age, gender, education, wealth and home ownership.
Genetics accounts for about a third, and as much as 45%, of a person's investing behavior, while other factors are responsible for a combined 5% to 10%, according to the researchers.
"We found that genetics explains differences in investor behavior much more than everything else that people have proposed," said Stephan Siegel, assistant professor of finance at the University of Washington's Foster School of Business.
The study, titled "Nature or Nurture: What Determines Investor Behavior?", was conducted by Siegel and Amir Barnea and Henrik Cronqvist, assistant professors of financial economics at Claremont McKenna College's Robert Day School of Economics and Finance.
The researchers cross-referenced nearly 38,000 twins in the Swedish Twin Registry-the world's largest twin database-with personal financial data collected by the Swedish government. By looking at the twins' stock market participation, asset allocation and portfolio risk, the researchers concluded there was a significantly higher correlation between identical twins than non-identical twins. The correlation of a random sample of the population is close to zero, they said.
"We found that the correlation among twins held true, no matter what their age and life experience," Barnea said. "Although family environment has a limited impact on young twins' bheavior, that disappears as they age."