Dan Egan is the Director of Behavior Science and Investing at the online advisor, Betterment. In launching this rather unique career, Dan levered a Masters degree in Decision Science at the London School of Economics into a role as Behavioral Finance Specialist at Barclays Wealth in London before moving on to Betterment. With 15 years operating at the cross-section between human behavior and markets he is one of the world’s foremost experts in this field.
To kick off the discussion I wanted to know: What do investors really want? Not what they say they want, or what economists say they should want, but what their day-to-day behavior says about what they actually want in practice. And moreover, how can advisors avoid disappointing them?
We also spent a while discussing the idea of nudging. I wondered about the type of nudges that Dan’s research suggests might be helpful and how he thinks about navigating the fine line between nudging and manipulation.
Lastly, we discussed how Dan’s understanding of human behavior factors into Betterment’s portfolio construction and lessons learned along the way. Dan is a data junkie and his unique perch has allowed him to gather critical insights into how humans interact with markets. I came away with some practical insights applicable to almost every facet of our investment business. Please enjoy my conversation with Dan Egan.