What's in a signature? Some believe it's just a utilitarian conclusion to a piece of writing. Others think signatures can provide a window into a someone's personality, particularly their work persona.
In an effort to get a window into the soul of some of Wall Street's elite, we reached out to certified handwriting analyst Elaine Charal, who often consults with companies on hiring decisions based on graphology. We had her take a swing at the two biggest names in banking, Goldman Sachs' CEO Lloyd Blankfein and J.P. Morgan chief exec Jamie Dimon, as well two of the most successful money managers of the last few decades, former Pimco boss Bill Gross and Pershing Square Capital founder Bill Ackman. Here's what she said. They're all, conflictingly, equally confident and guarded, at least based on their signature.
Lloyd C. Blankfein
Lloyd’s signature (his ‘public self’) is illegible, indicating he is a more private person who is selective about those he allows close. The stick-like stroke on the ‘y’ in his first name is termed a ‘loner stroke’ and indicates he does his best work independently, and indicates management ability. The stem of the ‘d’ in his first name remains above the baseline: Termed a ‘delta d’, this suggests creativity and literary ability. The tie-loop at the top of his ‘d’ stem indicates persistence. The fact that this stroke provides a complete circle around his first name is a protective stroke quality that ensures no one will enter his ‘inner circle’ unless he is sure they can be trusted. The figure-8 stroke between the capital ‘B’ and the ‘l’ of his family name, and in the ‘f’ of his family name, as well as the fact that he joins his middle initial to his family name is all termed ‘fluidity of mind’ and indicates that Lloyd can talk his way around most difficult situations by anticipating what the other person will say and then guiding the discussion to ‘safer waters’—this enhances his communication and his ability to persuade. The retracing in the ‘l’ in his family name suggests he will be quite particular in relation to his choice of ideas: He may need to say ‘Let me sleep on it” when offered an idea too far from his paradigm so that he doesn’t dismiss something he doesn’t feel comfortable with too quickly.
Jamie’s capital letters are quite high, indicating his very healthy ego strengths and his confidence. The ‘star’ shape of his capital ‘J’ suggests his tenacity. This particular stroke forms an umbrella over most of his signature, which is a protective stroke: No one is going to enter beneath the ‘roof’ that this stroke represents unless Jamie trusts that person absolutely. This stroke ‘flies’ over the stem of his capital ‘J’, suggesting visionary, long-range goals and an ability, when solving a problem, to cast his mind into the future, solve it in his mind, and then bring it back to the present to solve in actuality. Jamie’s signature (representing his private self) is illegible, indicating he is particular about allowing others close unless he feels he can absolutely trust them. It appears that there are needle points in the ‘m’ in Jamie’s first name: These needle strokes indicate that Jamie can usually think three times faster than others. Therefore, he may find it difficult to have a lengthy conversation with someone who is slow-minded and slow-talking. The ‘m’ in his family name appears to have sharp v-wedges at the base of the letter (analytical thinking) and sharp corresponding upper wedges (investigative thinking). Put these sharp wedges together in an ‘m’ indicates Jamie will do his utmost to control his life, destiny and decisions.
William H. Gross
Bill’s signature is leftward slanted. This left slant is a protection of sorts that allows him to view the world through a one-way mirror: He sees the world, but few in the world get to see him unless it is on his terms. This left slant also suggests that while Bill knows many people, he will be selective about those who he allows close. The garland connections between the letters in Bill’s first name suggest amiability.
Bill’s high capital letters indicate his confidence. The loop in the lower case “I” after the capital ‘B’ does suggest he has a slightly inflated opinion of himself. His widely-looped letter l’s indicate his active imagination: The second ‘l’ is higher than the first, indicating his desire to make sure the people important to him are pleased with his actions and his decisions; as a result, he may defer to others at times so that he can keep the peace and show that he is a team player. The slight under-sided loop in the letter ‘o’ in his family name indicates that he will prefer to deal with issues on his time and on his terms. The printed s’s at the end of his family name indicate his constructive thinking. The stroke on the last ‘s’ in his family name extends slightly beneath his family name, suggesting his self-reliance.
William A. Ackman
William’s signature (representing his public self) is illegible, indicating he is more of a private person who is selective about those he allows close. All of his connective strokes are sharply angled, indicating his drive to achieve: He does best when those around him make a point quickly, clearly and with brevity—he won’t have the patience for the long-winded or the overly detailed. William’s l’s are tightly retraced indicating he may be quick to dismiss an idea or information that is too far from his paradigm; my advice to him would be to say “Let me sleep on it” or words to that effect before dismissing an idea that is out of his comfort zone. It appears the ‘k’ buckle of his family name towers above the tops of his other lower-case letters: This is termed a ‘defiance stroke’ and indicates he will need to be his own authority figure. The relatively flat final stroke comprising the remainder of William’s family is due to his extremely quick mind (no patience to form the last letters). The v-wedge at the base of the ‘n’ in his family name indicate his sharp analytical ability.
*All signatures were taken from publicly available documents