The Defender personality type is quite unique, as many of their qualities defy the definition of their individual traits. Though sensitive, Defenders have excellent analytical abilities; though reserved, they have well-developed people skills and robust social relationships; and though they are generally a conservative type, Defenders are often receptive to change and new ideas. As with so many things, people with the Defender personality type are more than the sum of their parts, and it is the way they use these strengths that defines who they are.
There’s hardly a better type to make up such a large proportion of the population, nearly 13%. Combining the best of tradition and the desire to do good, Defenders are found in lines of work with a sense of history behind them, such as medicine, academics, and charitable social work.
Defender personalities are often meticulous to the point of perfectionism, and though they procrastinate, they can always be relied on to get the job done on time. Defenders take their responsibilities personally, consistently going above and beyond, doing everything they can to exceed expectations and delight others, at work and at home.
|ISFJ: The Defender
|Feelings enter trades
|Hesitates to make decisions
|Hesitant to make decisions
|In tune with Markets
|Doesn’t take advice
|Wants to understand
|Doesn’t work well with others
|Takes action quickly
|Slow to learn new things/ concepts
|Reluctant to admit failure or learn from error
|Trades the plan
Defenders are true altruists, meeting kindness with kindness-in-excess and engaging the work and people they believe in with enthusiasm and generosity.
- Supportive – Defenders are the universal helpers, sharing their knowledge, experience, time and energy with anyone who needs it, and all the more so with friends and family. People with this personality type strive for win-win situations, choosing empathy over judgment whenever possible. In a trading team, Defenders are a calming influence, often lending a supporting ear to another trader experiencing a rough patch.
- Reliable and Patient – Rather than offering sporadic, excited bursts of activity that leave things half finished, Defenders are meticulous and careful, taking a steady approach and bending with the needs of the situation just enough to accomplish their end goals. Defenders not only ensure that things are done to the highest standard, but often go well beyond what is required. In trading, with the proper training and guidance, Defenders are able to create detailed trading plans that leave nothing to chance. Their plans are detail-oriented, linear, and organized. This allows them to trade in a variety of market conditions with confidence.
- Imaginative and Observant – Defenders are very imaginative, and use this quality as an accessory to empathy, observing others’ emotional states and seeing things from their perspective. With their feet firmly planted on the ground, it is a very practical imagination, though they do find things quite fascinating and inspiring. This imagination, eye for detail, and empathy often allow Defenders to understand the psychological underpinnings of the market giving them a good feel for the market action.
- Enthusiastic – When the goal is right, Defenders take all this support, reliability and imagination and apply it to something they believe will make a difference in people’s lives – whether fighting poverty with a global initiative or simply making a customer’s day. This enthusiasm, coupled with detailed plans, allows them to trade both bullish and bearish markets. The inclusion of a Defender on a trading team will serve to keep the team’s spirits up in dull markets or after a typically trying time in trading.
- Loyal and Hard-Working – Given a little time, this enthusiasm grows into loyalty – Defender personalities often form an emotional attachment to the ideas and organizations they’ve dedicated themselves to. Anything short of meeting their obligations with good, hard work fails their own expectations. A Defender’s trades will be well researched. Coupled with their natural patience, when following a sturdy plan, a Defender rarely has to worry about entering a trade too early.
- Good Practical Skills – The best part is, Defenders have the practical sense to actually do something with all this altruism. If mundane, routine tasks are what need to be done, Defenders can see the beauty and harmony that they create, because they know that it helps them to care for their friends, family, and anyone else who needs it. In trading, Defenders understand that there is a certain amount of leg-work required before a trade is entered. They prefer to miss a trade than enter a trade without all the boxes in the plan being checked.
- Humble and Shy – The meek shall inherit the earth, but it’s a long road if they receive no recognition at all. This is possibly Defenders’ biggest challenge, as they are so concerned with others’ feelings that they refuse to make their thoughts known, or to take any duly earned credit for their contributions. Defenders’ standards for themselves are also so high that, knowing they could have done some minor aspect of a task better, they often downplay their successes entirely. In trading, this makes coaching the Defender a challenge. Typical techniques to recognize and reinforce good behavior (e.g. “Hey, great job waiting for the confirmation candle on that trade!”) often fall on deaf ears. Because of the humility innate in Defenders, the positive feedback loop of good behavior followed by praise to reinforce the behavior is sometimes slow to start in Defenders. This can lead to disjointed and inconsistent performance early in a Defender’s trading career.
- Take Things Too Personally – Defenders have trouble separating personal and impersonal situations – any situation is still an interaction between two people, after all – and any negativity from conflict or criticism can carry over from their professional to their personal lives, and back again. Defenders often have difficulty grasping the concept of an “acceptable loss” in trading. The tendency toward perfectionism leads to the unreasonable expectation that every trade should be a winner. Trading coaches dealing with the Defender personality should make an effort to focus the trader’s attention on overall portfolio profitability rather than individual trade win or loss. This works well with an experienced trader, but with a newer trader, a more directive approach must be taken, knowing full well that there will be emotional fallout and it is the fallout that should be managed. For example, when there are systemic or process-related issues with a newer trader’s trading plan, the coach should work to point out and correct those issues, but then, knowing the tendency to take critiques too personally, should direct the trader to suspend trading live capital and trade only in a demo account until the perceived negativity of the critique session subsides and the Defender’s confidence is restored.
- Repress Their Feelings – People with the Defender personality type are private and very sensitive, internalizing their feelings a great deal. Much in the way that Defenders protect others’ feelings, they must protect their own, and this lack of healthy emotional expression can lead to a lot of stress and frustration. In trading, this repression and internalization of feelings can have negative effects. Most commonly, the trader’s feelings can subconsciously enter the decision-making process, influencing the trader’s market outlook, sector analysis, and individual trade selection. This repression can also manifest itself in emotional, or revenge trading. When a trade goes against the Defender, rather than accept the loss and move on, with feelings of anger internalized, the trader will attempt to make another trade in the same issue to somehow “get back” at the stock or currency. More often than not, this results in a double loss rather than a profit.
- Overload Themselves – Their strong senses of duty and perfectionism combine with this aversion to emotional conflict to create a situation where it is far too easy for Defenders to overload themselves – or to be overloaded by others – as they struggle silently to meet everyone’s expectations, especially their own. As traders, Defenders need to guard against creating portfolios that have too many positions to effectively managed. While the perfectionist streak will ensure that each trade, when entered, was a reasonable position, the tendency to overload will create positions when total portfolio exposure exceeds an acceptable level. To alleviate this, the Defender needs to establish clear guidelines in the trading plan mandating that once a given level of portfolio exposure is reached, for each additional position entered, a corresponding position (preferably a losing position) must be liquidated.
- Reluctant to Change – These challenges can be particularly hard to address since Defender personalities value traditions and history highly in their decisions. A situation sometimes needs to reach a breaking point before Defenders are persuaded by circumstance, or the strong personality of a loved one, to alter course. As market conditions change, particularly when historically correlated assets decouple, the Defender often requires a strong trading coach to emphatically point out the change in conditions and may have to work with the trader to rebuild the trading plan from the ground up to reflect the new reality. As in other cases with the Defender personality, a good coach will work to correct the problem and subsequently manage the emotional fallout, usually by mandating a period of trading in a demo account to allow emotions to calm and confidence to be reestablished in the new plan.
- Too Altruistic – This is all compounded and reinforced by Defenders’ otherwise wonderful quality of altruism. Being such warm, good-natured people, Defenders are willing to let things slide, to believe that things will get better soon, to not burden others by accepting their offers of help, while their troubles mount unassisted. When trading on a team, the team’s Risk Manager may be the one to see the first signs of emotional struggle, most likely shown as a series of out-of-character trades or a sudden string of losses. These periods of emotional struggle may necessitate a reduction in position sizing, portfolio exposure, or (in the most extreme cases) position liquidation followed by a mandated break from trading.
The Defenders’ patience, reliability, linear thorough process, and inclination toward perfectionism makes them good multi-asset traders. These logical, linear skills marry well with their psychological understanding of the markets, allowing them to capitalize on trends, retracements, and sector rotation. Their trades will be well-analyzed and they will prefer to miss a trade rather than enter a trade early without a confirmatory signal.
However, their inborn perfectionism is a two-edged sword, as they can create unrealistic self-imposed expectations that every trade will be a winner. The internalization of their emotions makes them prone to succumbing to emotional trading and also prone to revenge trading.
Defenders must recognize their emotional tendencies and capitalize on their planning abilities to place gating mechanisms into their trading plans to avoid emotional trading. Early adoption of a policy of switching from a live account to a demo account when significant changes to a trading plan are made or immediately following a necessarily critical coaching session will allow the Defender to take advantage of a period of reassessment without their emotional internalizations of these periods adversely affecting their profitability.