Detecting & correcting

Analyzing past decisions and tendencies, a finance platform uncovers investment biases to hep make better investment decisions

Photo: Prof of Wall Street founder Amos Nadler

THE IMAGERY OF an angel on one shoulder, opposed by a devil on the other, each trying to influence our decisions, goes back thousands of years. So long ago, in fact, that it might be due for an update.

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That’s not exactly what Amos Nadler had in mind when he launched his business two years ago. It was rooted in science and research rather than superstition and iconography. Still, it’s not wrong to think of his SmartTrade product as a modern twist on that old concept. This advisor, however, goes beyond moral generalities and tropes. It analyzes previous decisions, tendencies you likely don’t know about, and instincts at the core of your identity to help you avoid repeating mistakes.

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“You need to catch biases to avoid mistakes,” says Nadler. He and his business are known as Prof of Wall Street, a social media handle he used when he was a PhD student and then Ivey prof researching behavioral finance and neuroeconomics. He taught at Ivey for eight years, leaving in 2021 for a ­variety of other opportunities, including running a hedge fund.

He never stopped his research, however, teaming up with Toronto-based tech and innovation hub TechTO at one point in an early effort to commercialize his work. It wasn’t until the pandemic, however, that he decided to devote his full-time efforts toward creating something that could help people with their daily investment decisions.

“We know over 90 per cent of people lose money doing their own trading” —Amos Nadler

“We know over 90 per cent of people lose money doing their own trading,” he says. “But during the lockdowns, a lot more people got involved. I saw a story about a U.S. college kid who committed suicide after losing over $700,000 on a site that allowed him to leverage a huge amount of money. That’s when I decided to recommit my technology and offer something to the public that might help avoid that kind of tragedy.”

He hired a software developer and devoted all his spare time to the ­project. In 2022, he left his hedge fund and went full-time, hiring a CEO and building a team of five.

SmartTrade has two broad components: It analyzes past behaviour to identify tendencies of an individual or a collective. Then it provides advice at the decision-making moment, offering a dispassionate perspective on what might happen if the investor takes a particular path.

Detecting & correcting investment biases Fintech

“It helps you in that moment, based on your own data,” Nadler says. “It might say, ‘This will be the 30th time you’ve done this and the last 29 times, you lost money. Do you want to proceed?’ That’s a simple example, but that’s the basic idea. Make people and organizations aware of their tendencies.”

Nadler will work with individual investors — “They can send their csv files and we can do a report” — but the bulk of the company’s activity is working with banks, investment houses and other institutions. Some organizations license the technology as a white label product they can rebrand and offer to customers. Others happily tag the product as coming from Prof of Wall Street.

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To date, the company has not built its own platform, preferring to license technology to a variety of users.

“Our analytics library provides a ton of data about what an organization is doing. And then the second part is the AI that reads a potential trade and gives advice.” The report hones in on decisions that are clearly distinguishable, have real consequences and can be changed. “We point out the good and bad, so they get a full picture of what they’re doing, along with advice about how to change in real time. It goes beyond consulting and offers a tangible product.” Detecting & correcting investment biases Fintech Kieran Delamont

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