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JProf. Dr. Zwetelina Iliewa

Cluster position Investigator

Cluster member since 2020

Main research topics

Behavioral and Experimental Finance, Household Finance, Expectation Formation


Zwetelina Iliewa is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Economics at the University of Bonn. Furthermore, she is a member of the managing board of the Society for Experimental Finance. Her research interests in the fields of behavioral and experimental finance and experimental economics. Before joining the University of Bonn, she was a Senior Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods. Zwetelina Iliewa studied Economics in Mannheim and received her PhD in Finance from the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in 2016.


What is the best thing about your job?

The exchange with my colleagues and co-authors. Often in conversations, you create ideas and then you see them getting destroyed to make place for new and better ideas constantly, that is an extraordinary experience. And, of course, my little son being part of my work life now during the pandemic. He reminds me of the privilege of being a researcher, which is to have an extended childhood in some sense, because being a researcher you have the freedom to question everything, just like a child.

If you had not gone into research, what would you be doing today?

I started to work as a derivatives trader at a bank right when the financial crisis started in 2008. What shrugged me the most:  Although the risk and uncertainty was higher, everyone was so confident about their decisions and expectations – questioning was unwanted. That is why I decided to go back to university and start to work in research – to understand how people make risky choices in general, and financial choices in particular.

Who or what inspires you?

To work outside of the field and read books from different fields of research. But most importantly: To speak with colleagues or even people I did not know before. I love it when there is a spark and a synergy in a conversation and in the end, you do not know how you landed where you did.

When was the last time you had to change your mind?

I always try to avoid the tragic irony of committing the behavioural mistakes I write about in my research, for instance making investment choices inconsistent with my initial plan. But sometimes I also change my opinion last minute – for instance, this morning I pressed the snooze button on my alarm clock.

Which advice would you have needed yourself as a doctoral student?

Be open-minded and get as much help as you can, even when you think you do not need it. The gradual school is the “childhood” phase in your career, it is the time you are supposed to use all available resources to explore.