Money matters make for good movies.
It’s been said that money is a powerful motivator, for good or ill, and Hollywood seems to agree. Some of the best movies are set in the wily world of finance, from edge-of-your-seat thrillers to raucous comedies and illuminating documentaries. While financial professionals are often portrayed in a less-than-flattering light in movies, their greed and schemes can be both entertaining and educational, as well as a sober reminder of just what can happen when things are taken to extremes. Whether you’re just considering a career in the industry or are a seasoned professional, these seven movies for financial advisors belong on your “to watch” list.
Margin Call (2011)
“Margin Call” takes a close look at the early part of the 2007–2008 financial crisis. It follows the decisions of key players in an investment firm as they take steps to control the damage an analyst’s negative findings could have on their company. It may be a work of fiction, but it’s also a “brutally honest look at how some of the decision making occurs on Wall Street,” says Peter Hoglund, a certified financial planner and senior vice president at Wealth Enhancement Group. “It’s particularly interesting as you see increasing dislocation as you rise in the corporate ranks from how their decisions will affect anything other than the bottom line.”
The Big Short (2015)
“The Big Short” also takes a look at the 2007–2008 financial crisis, but from the perspective of stock traders who first identify the housing bubble. The movie portrays how they take advantage of the collapse through various financial instruments. The explanations of these instruments is perhaps the best part of the movie — how often can you learn about synthetic CDOs, or collateralized debt obligations, while watching Selena Gomez at the poker table? While the movie is fictional, the financial products discussed are not.
Inside Job (2010)
For a less fictionalized take on the global financial crisis of 2008, Jeff Donham, a certified financial planner and senior wealth advisor at The Colony Group, recommends “Inside Job.” He says it’s an educational opportunity for advisors looking to truly understand the greed behind the financial crisis. “I remember the collapse of big banks like Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns like it was yesterday,” he says. “Given the current landscape of increasing home prices, financial advisors will get a good view into the differences between real estate now and in 2008, when subprime lending and bundled mortgage investments were in full swing.”
What do wine and personal finance have in common? Grueling exams, according to Steve Hoerr, an advisor at Moneta who holds both the certified public accountant and certified financial planner designations. “Somm” is a 2012 documentary that follows four wine stewards as they prepare for the master sommelier exam, which is lauded to be one of the world’s most challenging tests. While the exams financial advisors take may not be quite as difficult, they’re no walk in the park. Advisors may be able to relate to or get a useful glimpse into the strain that studying can put on personal and family life, and a taste of both victory and defeat — while learning more than a little bit about wine, Hoerr says.
Trading Places (1983)
This lighthearted movie features Eddie Murphy as a con artist and Dan Aykroyd as the snobbish manager of a commodities trading firm. When the two men have their places reversed, hilarity ensues. While there isn’t as much actual trading as you might expect, it provides a fun glimpse into what it’s like to run a trading firm. And there is at least one good scene of a frenzied trading session, a requisite for any true Wall Street film.
Boiler Room (2000)
If you’ve ever warned a client or friend that any investment that sounds too good to be true probably is, then this movie is for you. It portrays a group of twenty-something aggressive stock jocks who will do whatever it takes to sell unsuspecting buyers on a pump-and-dump scheme where the firm creates artificial demand in a stock before selling it at a huge profit. The movie is fiction, but the schemes employed are very real and a worthwhile note of caution for anyone in the financial industry, investors and advisors alike.
Wall Street (1987)
Would any list of movies for financial advisors be complete without the eponymous “Wall Street”? It follows ambitious stock broker Bud Fox, who admires the unflinching tactics of corporate raider Gordon Gekko and convinces Gekko to mentor him in exchange for insider trading information. While it was originally written to shine a light on the hedonism in the finance industry, it has also become a powerful recruiting tool, drawing in new traders, brokers, analysts and bankers, even decades after its release.
The 7 best movies for financial advisors:
— Margin Call
— The Big Short
— Inside Job
— Trading Places
— Boiler Room
— Wall Street
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