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Scientists Discover "Investor Gene"

Have you been frustrated with your inability to beat the market? Well, apparently, it's not your fault.

Earlier this week, the Human Genome Project discovered and isolated a DNA sequence that enhances financially related skills, specifically investing. According to scientists, your chances of being an above-average investor are miniscule if you don't have the "Investor Gene."

The study -- a sampling of 1000 subjects -- reveals that only one person in 10 has the Investor Gene.

"It appears that investing is about 75% genetic, 15% ability, and 10% blind luck," said Dr. Peter Venkman of the Human Genome Project. "A person without the IG-407 sequence [i.e., the Investor Gene] has an outside shot at investing successfully. But it would take an extraordinary amount of scholarship and a lot of luck. Personally, I wouldn't bother."

As you can imagine, Venkman's analysis comes as a disturbing shock to us, but it does reaffirm the wisdom of investing in an index fund -- such as Vanguard's Total Market Index Fund -- which matches the market's return without effort. And if these early findings prove true, the implications throughout the financial world should be dramatic and far-reaching. Will customers only work with a broker if she has the gene? Will we see a reduction in the number of financial planners? Will fund managers be legally required to reveal their genome?

In our commitment to be uncompromisingly honest, we've done an extraordinary study. With the cooperation of specialists at Geneflex, Inc., we were able to analyze blood samples from most of our Fool employees. We're proud to say we're the first financial services organization to perform the test.

Some of our results were startling.

Of the 29 Fool employees who beat the market over the last five years, 24 have the Investor Gene. And 104 out of 117 of those who lost to the market do not possess the gene. Unbelievable.

The study also shocked us in another way. Motley Fool co-founder David Gardner has the Investor Gene, while his brother and co-founder Tom Gardner does not. This is not surprising, however, considering David's Rule Breaker Portfolio has substantially outperformed the market, while Tom's Rule Maker Portfolio has been getting clubbed lately and is losing to the market.

Given this new information, we'll be making swift changes to our service. Effective immediately, David Gardner will assume responsibilities for all of our portfolios. Tom will slowly be phased out of portfolio management and moved into our administration department. He will continue to speak publicly, but he'll focus more on wellness and personal safety issues.

Also, in keeping with our Fool Disclosure policy, you'll soon be able to see whether a certain writer has IG-407. In every article, next to the author's name, an icon will appear indicating the writer's genetic status.

But enough about the Fool and our service. What should you do as an individual investor?

First, don't panic. There's so much we still don't know about genetics. There are likely additional factors that will make this issue more complex. Remember when everybody thought oat bran was the next big thing? There may well be other genetic sequences, as well as proteins, that significantly alter or refute this early discovery.

Right now, the best thing you can do is learn more about the Investor Gene and find out whether you possess it. The sooner you know, the better. A visit to your doctor or local DNA clinic will work, but thanks to modern technology, there's an easier way. In conjunction with the Human Genome Project, The Motley Fool is providing an online test to determine if you have the gene. But first, we want to provide you with a quick crash course in genetics.

Genetics, the Investor Gene, and You »


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