The Behavioural Finance and Accounting Research Group (BFA) was founded in 2017 with the aim to encourage and attract research on cognitive and economic decision-making pertaining to financial markets and the preparation and interpretation of financial statements. The Group prides itself on collaborative research between academics and students across the globe. A key aspect of BFA is applying behaviour research to real-world contexts by taking social and psychological theory on decision making and assessing its validity in organisational and individual financial decision making. 

The members of BFA welcome interest from academics who are wanting to pursue collaborative research or potential PhD candidates in the fields of Behavioural Finance or Behavioural Accounting.  


Below is a list of publications produced by BFA members:

  • Willows, GD, Richards, D. (2022). Buy and buy again: The impact of unique reference points on (re)purchase decisions. International Review of Finance. 23(2), 301-316.

    Behavioral finance has uncovered that investor engage emotionally when trading. We investigate how three psychological factors influence purchase and repurchase decisions: representativeness, the influence of prior gains, and reference points. Using trading data of 7200 UK investors we find that purchase decisions are influenced by representative heuristic and repurchase decisions are influenced by both representative heuristic and prior profitability. Further survival analysis showed that investors use the prior selling price as a unique reference point. Investors are more likely to repurchase a stock when trading above its reference point, but more likely to initiate the repurchase when trading below. Investors are influenced by previous experience and engage learning behavior when they seek to reinforce past success. As reference points are inferred but infrequently researched, this research adds to the literature and provides important and robust results for those engaging with financial planning clients.

  • Tahir, M.S., Shahid, A.U. & Richards, D.W. (2022) The role of impulsivity and financial satisfaction in a moderated mediation model of consumer financial resilience and life satisfactionInternational Journal of Bank Marketing, 40(4), 773-790.

    This paper explores the direct and indirect associations between financial resilience and life satisfaction, using the moderation of non-impulsive behavior and mediation of financial satisfaction. The authors analyze the Australian household dataset, named the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey, to meet the objectives of this paper. Furthermore, the authors use the PROCESS Models 4 and 7 to test the mediation and the combined moderated mediation relationships, respectively. The authors find the complete mediation of the relationship between financial resilience and life satisfaction by financial satisfaction. Also, this study finds that both financial resilience and non-impulsive behavior positively contribute to financial satisfaction, which is positively associated with life satisfaction. This research supports the need for consumers to build emergency funds as financial resilience is related to consumer well-being. This research also recommends that impulsive behavior should be addressed by the personal finance curriculum and financial advisors. This research contributes by showing that financial satisfaction is an important predictor of consumers’ well-being. The ability to access financial resources, which increases for non-impulsive consumers, is associated with increased life satisfaction but only via financial satisfaction.

  • Jugnandan, S, Willows, GD. (2021). "It's a long story…" - Impression management in South African corporate reportingAccounting Research Journal. 35(5), 1030-9616.

    The purpose of this paper is to investigate whether companies listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange use impression management techniques to obscure financial performance across the corporate reporting suite. Mixed-effect linear regression models were used to examine whether there is a relationship between the financial performance of a company and the length or complexity of the reports produced. Consistent with trends examined internationally, companies with lower financial performance tend to present lengthier disclosures throughout the reporting complement. However, there is limited evidence to suggest a definitive relationship between report complexity and performance. Corporate reports have maintained a consistent level of complexity and are not easily readable. This paper is unique as it simultaneously considers multiple corporate reports, including the annual financial statements, integrated reports and market announcements. The paper contributes to the limited body of literature on impression management from emerging economies. A comparison of the complexity measures to the average education level of South Africans indicates that most corporate reports are not readable to the layman investor. Thus, despite there being no definitive relationship between complexity and performance, there is impetus to simplify corporate reporting.

  • Willows, GD, October, C. (2021). Perceptions of retirement savings: Through the lens of Black amaXhosa women in South AfricaCritical Perspectives on Accounting. 102382.

    Much research has been performed on the quantitative amount of formal savings held by various racial and gender groups and concluded that Black women are the least prepared for retirement. Therefore, a narrative of scarcity has been perpetuated without fully understanding the underlying reason. This research applies a gender lens to critical accounting and reconceptualises previous definitions and research using the narratives of Black amaXhosa women in South Africa. Various informal ways of saving and references to communal preparedness challenge the individualistic view of success as theorised in previous Anglo-Saxon research. The culture of providing financial support is learned behaviour and impacted by the theory of socialisation which plays an important role in how individuals interact with one another and create and maintain their social norms. Such feminine accounting reconceptualises the notion of retirement savings in a different cultural and social context, by focusing on the real life of ordinary people. It has removed some of the ambiguity on the negative impression of the savings culture of Black amaXhosa women in South Africa. The gendering of retirement savings, unconventional ways of planning for retirement and cultural dynamics influence retirement savings. This opens a dialogue on whether considering retirement preparedness purely via the quantitative amount of formalised savings and western ideologies is sufficient.

  • This study explores the relationship between financial literacy, behavior and attitude, and retirement savings decisions. Members of a South African tertiary institution’s retirement fund were surveyed and multistage multivariate regression and mediation analyses showed that developing and conforming to a retirement plan positively influenced financial attitude and behavior. This indicates that interventions should focus on the specific behaviors which drive retirement planning, rather than financial literacy in isolation. Use of formal tools such as consulting with a financial planner also increases the relative risk of successful retirement planning. This presents a tangible and linear approach towards improved financial behavior.


  • Tahir, S. T., Richards, D. W. & Ahmed, A. D. Financial literacy, attitudes, and financial satisfaction: an assessment of credit card debt-taking behavior of Australians. Financial Services Review. 28(4), 273-301

    Unpaid credit card debt can be problematic; people should avoid it where possible. Unlike prior studies, this paper examines the relative strength of the association of financial literacy, attitude towards balancing spending and savings, and financial satisfaction with credit card debt-taking behavior by analyzing the 2016 wave of the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey. We find that higher financial literacy is associated with less credit card debt. However, incorporating the other factors reduces this relationship. Our results advise policy-makers to include components in the financial literacy curricula which encourage savings attitude to reduce problematic debt-taking.

  • Richards, D., Willows, G.D. (2019). Monday mornings: Individual investor trading on days of the week and times within a day. Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Finance. 22, 105-115.

    Individual investors’ demand for trading activity will vary over time according to their availability and desire to trade. Academic research has primarily investigated market wide trading activity, showing low trading activity on Mondays and high activity at the start and end of each day. It remains unknown whether individual investors’ trading behavior mimics these market patterns. Instead research on individual investors shows that they overtrade in general and are less likely to trade losses. We research trading activity for 7 200 UK investors, finding these investors actually prefer trading on Mondays and trade in a W-shaped intraday pattern. Further investigation revealed that investors increased their selling of losses on Monday mornings, suggesting investors utilize spare time to process difficult trading decisions.

    Associated news article

  • Bashall, J; Willows, GD; West, D (2018). The Extent to Which Professional Advice Can Reduce the Disposition Effect: An Emerging Market Study. Journal of Emerging Market Finance. 17(2), 1-21.

    This study tests for the disposition effect in South Africa across two classes of non-professional investors: those acting in their own capacity and those acting with the assistance of professional investment advisors. The trade history of 4,840 investor accounts from a South African stockbroker was analysed over the 5-year period from October 2008 to October 2013. The results showed that individual investors in South Africa exhibit the disposition effect. However, investors acting with the assistance of professional advisors show the effect to a lesser extent which was found to be rationally justifiable on the grounds of portfolio rebalancing

  • Richards,D. W. Fenton-O'Creevy, M., Rutterford, J., Kodwani D.G. (2018). Is the disposition effect related to investors’ reliance on System 1 and System 2 processes or their strategy of emotion regulation? Journal of Economic Psychology. 66, 79-92

    We report research on investor susceptibility to the disposition effect, a financial decision-making bias where investors have a greater propensity to realize gains than realize losses.  Despite theoretical arguments for the influence of emotions, research on susceptibility to this bias, on real investors, has relied primarily on socio-demographic explanations. Using investors’ trading records from a UK sample, we measure their susceptibility to the disposition effect and assess, through a questionnaire, their reliance on Systems 1 and 2 cognitive processes and use of two emotion regulation strategies. Investors with higher reliance on System 1 processes have greater disposition effect, but reliance on System 2 processes is not related to the disposition effect. Investor reliance on reappraisal reduces their disposition effect. However, the use of expressive suppression does not show a statistically significant relationship with this bias. These results suggest that investors’ intuitive emotional reactions explain susceptibility to bias, and that effective strategies of regulating emotions enable this bias to be overcome.

  • Richards, D.W.; Willows, G.D. (2018). Who Trades Profusely? The Characteristics of Frequent Trading Individual Investors. Global Finance Journal. 35, 1-11.

    Research has shown that investors trade too frequently, and that this overtrading lowers investment return. This paper examines the characteristics of investors who trade frequently. Multivariable regression analysis of over three years of trading data from 7200 UK investors enabled identification of numerous characteristics significantly and positively associated with frequent trading. These were male gender, younger age, use of stop losses and use of multiple mediums of trading, including the internet, the telephone and an advice team. In addition, the research revealed that trading frequency is positively skewed, in that a small proportion of investors are responsible for the majority of the trading with the highest cumulative value. The results are of practical value to policy makers that want to reduce investors' trading frequency because they outline that a small minority of investors need be targeted.

    Associated news article

  • D.W.; Rutterford, J. Kodwani, D. & Fenton- O'Creevy (2017). Stock market investors' use of stop losses and the disposition effectThe European Journal of Finance, 23:2, 130-152.


    The disposition effect is an investment bias where investors hold stocks at a loss longer than stocks at a gain. This bias is associated with poorer investment performance and exhibited to a greater extent by investors with less experience and less sophistication. A method of managing susceptibility to the bias is through use of stop losses. Using the trading records of UK stock market individual investors from 2006 to 2009, this paper shows that stop losses used as part of investment decisions are an effective tool for inoculating against the disposition effect. We also show that investors who use stop losses have less experience and that, when not using stop losses, these investors are more reluctant to realise losses than other investors.

Current research projects

Below is a brief listing of current research projects being undertaken by BFA members:

  • Disposition effect amongst traders on the ALSI
  • Disposition effect and trading commissions
  • Diversification bias and concentration of risk by fund managers
  • Behavioural bias mitigation for financial planners
BFA Members  
Picture of Dr Gizelle D. Willows

Dr Gizelle D. Willows

College of Accounting, UCT, Cape Town, South Africa

Staff profile.


Picture of Dr Daniel

Dr Daniel W. Richards

School of Administrative Studies, York University, Toronto, Canada

Staff profile.