10 Things You Didn’t Know About John Coates

An unprecedented dive into the world of John Coates, one of the most influential scholars in finance.

John Coates, an esteemed figure in the broad sphere of academia and finance, has contributed substantially to our understanding of economic structures, policies and phenomena. As a senior research fellow in neuroscience and finance at the University of Cambridge, his work integrates psychology, economics, and biology. Given his impactful career and insightful theories, let’s unfold 10 things you may not know about this remarkable personality.

1. Dual Career Path

Before establishing a name in academia, Coates led a very different life. For 12 years, he was a thriving trader on Wall Street. He specialized primarily in the trading of interest rate derivatives for large investment banks like Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank. This hands-on experience in the high-pressure world of finance gives a unique practical edge to his teachings and writings.

In a turn of fate, after retiring from Wall Street, he moved to the University of Cambridge. Here, he joined the world of academia–a shift not commonly witnessed. It was at Cambridge where he cultivated his interest in the emerging field of neuroeconomics.

2. Originator of the “Winner Effect”

Coates introduced the concept of the “Winner Effect,” a phenomenon where a win in a competitive environment causes a marked increase in testosterone levels. When higher testosterone levels persist, they have the potential to critically impact future decision-making processes, often leading to reckless risk-taking.

This concept evolved from his research on traders which showed that their testosterone levels increased on days when they made above-average profits. The “Winner Effect” reflects Coates’s interdisciplinary approach, merging financial understanding with biological mechanisms.

3. Published a Best-Selling Book

John Coates authored “The Hour Between Dog and Wolf,” a book elegantly weaves his experiences on Wall Street with his research on risk-taking psychology. Named one of the best books of the year by The Economist, it delves into how biological signals can impact decision-making and risk tolerance.

The book has been translated into several languages, further demonstrating its global resonance. It accentuates Coates’s aspiration to educate, inform, and demystify finance through a neuroscientific lens.

4. Academic Journey

Many may not know that Coates has a rich academic background. He earned a Degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) from University College, Oxford. Furthermore, he obtained his PhD in neuroscience from the University of Cambridge.

His focus on Philosophy and Politics at Oxford nurtured his analytical perspectives. The subsequent transformation to hard science with a Ph.D. in Neuroscience shows his versatility in integrating myriad fields of study.

5. Advocate of Physiology in Finance

One thing that sets Coates apart from his colleagues is his insistence on the importance of physiology in finance. He strongly believes that our bodies can significantly influence our decisions, sometimes to the point of overriding logical thought.

Through his research, he propounds that biology should be incorporated into theories of financial instability. Coates thinks traders’ physiology could potentially be utilized as a risk metric in the finance industry going forward.

6. Recipient of Notable Accolades

Coates stands as one of the recognized figures in his domain. He’s been honored with several prestigious awards and titles for his research and contributions to finance literature. The Kulp-Wright Book Award presented to him by the American Risk and Insurance Association for the best book on risk management and insurance, stands as a testament to his excellence.

7. Featured Speaker at TED

Coates was invited to share his views and research findings at a TED Talk, underlining his global acknowledgement. The platform only invites speakers who are pioneers and innovators in their respective fields, and Coates’s inclusion stands testament to his groundbreaking research.

8. Research on Stress

Coates has also done extensive research on the role of stress in decision-making. His research highlights that chronic stress is detrimental not only to health but also to cognition and risk management.

9. Major Influence on Neuroeconomics

Undeniably, Coates has been a significant influence in the emerging field of neuroeconomics – the confluence of neuroscience, economics, and psychology. His research has provided newer insights into the role of hormonal changes in the context of financial risk taking, a unique perspective in economics.

10. Born in Canada

Despite his significant contributions to the finance industry in the USA and UK, Coates was actually born and raised in Canada, further adding to the global impact of his work.


Here are some links where you can learn more about John Coates and his work.
John Coates’ Official Website
The Hour Between Dog and Wolf by John Coates
John Coates’ TED Talk