Our top five trader flicks
Trading is hard work. The long hours and high levels of stress that inevitably come with the job can really take their toll. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you get some rest and relaxation whenever you can. And with the weekend just around the corner, what better way to recharge your batteries than a lazy afternoon spent on the couch watching a nice film?
The only thing that could possibly improve on that would be if your chosen movie could motivate you to become an even better trader once you get back to work. With this in mind, we decided to put together a shortlist of the best motion pictures about trading and the financial markets. So take a look at these gems and hopefully you’ll find one you can enjoy the next time you decide to take a well-earned break.
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
Our number one spot goes to the latest instalment in what is perhaps the iconic financial franchise, with both 1987 original and this more recent release both enjoying cult status among traders and muggles alike. The sequel is set in New York and focuses on the 2008 financial crisis. Its plot revolves around an allegedly reformed Gordon Gekko, played by none other than Michael Douglas, and follows his efforts to repair his relationship with his daughter Winnie aided by her fiancé, Jacob Moore (Shia LaBeouf). Apart from being a great way to switch off after a hard week’s graft, it also deals with a poignant issue for many in our line of work: finding the right balance between our work and home lives. For those of you with families, it should help you to realise the importance of maintaining relationships with your loved ones, even during the most testing of times. So why not curl up on the couch with your significant other and treat yourself to an excellent bit of cinema this weekend? And who knows, you might just learn something useful!
The Big Short
In at number 2, we have one of the most seminal films about insider trading ever made: the Big Short. You won’t find a more accurate depiction of the behind the scenes dealings that contributed to the biggest financial crisis in nearly a century. So apart from being incredibly entertaining, it will also teach you about how a small number of movers and shakers can turn entire markets on their heads almost overnight. The film tells the story of Wall Street guru Michael Burry – the man largely credited with predicting the sub-prime mortgage crisis. Burry essentially bets against the housing market by putting $1 billion of his investors' capital into credit default swaps. Soon enough this attracts the attention of banker Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling), hedge-fund specialist Mark Baum (Steve Carell) and a whole array of other avaricious opportunists. Seemingly unfazed by the implications of the impending economic collapse, these men make a fortune from the misfortune of millions of ordinary Americans. Come for the intrigue and excitement, stay for the valuable lesson in fiscal responsibility which you can apply to your own risk management habits.
The Wolf of Wall Street
Our third place title goes to Martin Scorsese’s 2013 biopic, which charts the rise and fall of Wall Street tycoon Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio). After taking an entry-level job in a minor brokerage, Belfort ends up stating his own firm while still in his 20s. Flanked by his trusted partner in crime, Donnie Azoff (Johnah Hill), the two cheat their ways to the top by defrauding wealthy investors out of millions amid a non-stop rollercoaster of sex, drugs and general excess. It’s all fun and games until the SEC and FBI close in on the delinquent duo. This hilarious romp will have you in stitches from start to finish with some really sterling comedic performances from a top class cast. Despite its nonchalant tone, the film does still contain a powerful, sobering message that ambitious new traders would be wise to heed: don’t get carried away with yourself! You might be lucky enough to experience quick initial success when you start trading but don’t get complacent. Remember the old adage, “Pride cometh before a fall”.
In the fourth spot, we have another GFC-era masterpiece starring Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons and Stanley Tucci. J.C. Chandor’s directorial debut tells the story of an unnamed investment bank whose portfolio of highly-leveraged, toxic mortgage-backed securities is a ticking timebomb primed to take down the entire firm unless its traders can sell off the junk assets before the market discovers their worthlessness. This film is much more serious than some of the more light-hearted looks at the 2008 financial crash and the emphasis is firmly on the human cost of the crisis – whether that be to the bank’s own sacrificial lambs (such as Tucci’s character, Eric Dale) or its faithful investors who end up holding the garbage MBS assets when the music finally stops. Although a little sombre at times, the acting and narrative are fantastic. This cerebral thriller won’t make you laugh, but it will certainly make you think.
Last but not by no means least there’s Ben Younger’s fascinating insight into the world of cold-calling stockbrokers and their unsuspecting marks. Boiler Room is the only film in our list that takes place before the global financial meltdown of 2007-8 and thus has a unique charm of its own. In many ways, that is what makes it even more honest and revealing. After all, everyone remembers all too well what went on in the run-up to the GFC, but not many will know about the aftermath of the dot com bubble. Aside from offering a nice history lesson, Boiler Room forces us to reassess our conceptions around right and wrong when a crisis of conscience drives the main character Seth Davis to IPO fraud in a bid to raise money for the defrauded victims of his old firm. It’s definitely worth a watch and we can definitely think of worse ways to spend a couple of hours on a lazy weekend afternoon.
So that just about rounds off our list of the top five trader movies to watch next time you’re enjoying a well-deserved bit of R&R. Apart from helping you recover mentally from a long week of hard work, we hope they’ll also leave you with a little food for thought as you prepare to re-enter the foray that is the financial markets. This could be anything from the realisation of the need for balance, wariness of the danger of hubris or new-found understanding of the importance of good capital management. Then – when you do get back on the trading horse – you’ll be reenergised, refocused and ready to make some big cash. And if your preferred asset class is crypto, StormGain will be more than happy to help you on your way to your first million!