Advertising
Advertising

10 Unforgettable Financial Lessons From The Most Entertaining Wall-Street Movies

10 Unforgettable Financial Lessons From The Most Entertaining Wall-Street Movies

Stories of America’s financial hub never fail to captivate audiences. The New York Stock Exchange is crammed into four rooms, and Wall Street itself is less than a mile long. However, this hive is the center of the world’s financial activity, resulting in an average of 5.7 billion shares traded each day, according to recent numbers published by the Wall Street Journal. Margin Call, Arbitrage, and the recent Wolf of Wall Street thoroughly examine the fast paced decisions, complexities, and even savagery of life in this iconic financial hub. Business leaders have to consider how they’ll react under immense pressure to keep their organizations afloat and customers happy. The protagonists in the following movies must face high-risk decisions and ethical issues on a constant basis. Decisions that can significantly impact their personal and professional lives. Here are 10 takeaway lessons we can gain from these films.

1

    Lesson #1: Be Prepared to Face Significant Risks

    The film Margin Call highlights some of the extremely sobering potential risks faced by traders working for Wall Street firms. In this sink or swim drama, the decision makers at the firm discover that they have to sell off extremely toxic securities, or their organization will sink. However, offloading these securities will only push the crisis onto their partners and clients, severing trusting relationships that the firm has been developing for years. It is a harrowing study of what traders will do when faced with situations of immense risk. Employees watch as their peers are laid off left and right, as the surviving firm representatives accumulate mass amounts of wealth, as the crisis affects everyone around them. Margin Call serves as a strong reminder that large gains are often made at the severe expense of others.

    “I want you to hit every bit you can find. Dealers, brokers, clients, your mother, if she’s buying….The ground is shifting below our feet, and apparently, there’s no other way out.” – Sam Rogers, Margin Call

    2

      Lesson #2: Don’t Cook the Books

      Arbitrage attracted critical attention and acclaim in 2012 with its list of stars, including Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, and Tim Roth. Gere’s character, Robert Miller, is an unsavory magnate whose history of fraud remains unknown to his family. He’s altered his company’s financial data to keep his criminal acts concealed. Miller is involved in a car accident that results in a fatality, and tries to minimize his involvement. The ensuing investigation brings several questions to the surface for his family members, who catch onto the fraudulent activity. While Miller never has to legally answer for his crimes, his relationships with his family members have been irrevocably damaged. Arbitrage serves as a stark reminder that unethical business practices can come back to bite you. They can negatively impact your personal life and relationships as well.

      “Nothing is beyond money for you, Robert. We both know that.” – Jimmy Grant, Arbitrage

      3

        Lesson #3: Don’t Let Success Get To Your Head

        The Wolf of Wall Street is the epitome of a financial cautionary tale, demonstrating the new lows people can sink to when they amass their own fortunes quickly on Wall Street. Stockbroker Jordan Belfort can’t handle the quick success, and he spirals out of control with drug use, sex, insane purchases, and scams. This film teaches us that the fast accumulation of wealth doesn’t work out for everyone – in fact, it can lead people down paths of destruction. This adaptation is based on the real life experiences of Jordan Belfort, detailed in his 2007 memoir.

        “On a daily basis I consume enough drugs to sedate Manhattan.” – Jordan Belfort, The Wolf of Wall Street

        4

          Lesson #4: Those Who Rise the Highest Might Fall the Furthest

          The 1993 TV movie, Barbarians at The Gate, tells the story of F. Ross Johnson, a prestigious CEO who has risen to wealth and fame after working as a paperboy. This rags to riches tale initially seems like the perfect capitalist success story. However, things become sour as Johnson strives to save a company from doom by purchasing it. The ensuing drama demonstrates that millions of dollars are at stake. Quite often, CEOs betting on Wall Street are putting their fortunes on the line.

          “It’s not the company. It’s the credibility. My credibility. I can’t just sit on the bench and let other people play the game. Not my game. Not with their rules.” – Henry Kravis, Barbarians at the Gate

          If you’re looking for a completely different type of film that emphasizes this point, check out Assault on Wall Street. This over-the-top Hollywood action shootout shows what one murderous and vengeful broker will do during an economic recession.

          Advertising

          “They should all know that I am out there, a soldier of the people.” – Jim Baxford, Assault on Wall Street

          5

            Lesson #5: Don’t Let Brokers Gamble with Institutional Funds

            Rogue Trader is a fictional adaptation of a real-life story, which illustrates one of the most catastrophic cautionary tales for banking institutions. Nick Leeson, portrayed by Ewan McGregor, gambles with illegal trades as a bank employee. His employers never think to monitor these trades, and the situation quickly derails.

            “I, Nick Leeson, have lost 50 million quid in one day!” – Nick Leeson, Rogue Trader

            6

              Lesson #6: Stop Trying to Impress Others

              Seth Davis (played by Giovanni Ribisi) is the hapless protagonist of Boiler Room, which also stars Vin Diesel. Seth drops out of college and seeks to regain the approval of his father, who is a really strict federal judge. To impress his dad, he begins to explore the world of stock brokerage. However, his quest to win over his father unwinds when Seth is confronted with extremely unethical business dilemmas.

              “I have a very strong work ethic. The problem was my ethics in work.” – Seth Davis, Boiler Room

              7

                Lesson #7: The Press Will Dig Up Your Dirt

                Investor Sherman McCoy, played by Tom Hanks, learned this the hard way in The Bonfire of the Vanities. He becomes the center of a media scandal as journalists and politicians warp a criminal investigation to suit their needs. McCoy’s life is completely picked apart by lawyers and journalists, who publicly reveal his infidelity, along with other dirty secrets.

                “You see, Sherman, who started with so much, lost everything. But he gained his soul. Whereas I, you see, who started with so little, gained everything.” – Peter Fallow, The Bonfire of the Vanities

                8

                  Lesson #8: It’s All a Big Gamble

                  Michael Moore’s eye-opening Capitalism: A Love Story documentary shows just how ill-informed Wall Street influencers are when it comes to where American funds are going. When Moore grills Elizabeth Warren about the location and status of federal bailout money, he was met with an “I don’t know” response. Moore spends the remainder of the film being met with red tape and closed doors as he tries to chase down answers on Wall Street.

                  “Don’t make any more movies.” – A Wall Street Businessman, Capitalism: A Love Story

                  Advertising

                  9

                    Lesson #9: Put Your Eggs in More than One Basket

                    The HBO film, Too Big To Fail, illustrates the false confidence and extremely risky deals made by American financial institutions in 2008, which lead to the financial crisis and recession. Unfortunately, a pattern of mergers led to a very small group of institutions accountable for massive amounts of U.S. wealth. With few accountability measures in place, these banking giants were slid downhill along with the country’s funds.

                    “AIG can’t pay. AIG goes under. Every bank they insure books massive losses on the same day. And then they all go under. It all comes down.” – Neel Kashkari, Too Big to Fail

                    10

                      Lesson #10: The Stress Can Be Really Bad for Your Health

                      American Psycho is an extremely memorable film adaptation of the Bret Easton Ellis novel. Institutions aren’t just at risk of meltdowns – the human psyche can suffer a breakdown due to the immense stress of life on Wall Street. Christian Bale horrifies us with his portrayal of serial killer Patrick Bateman, who has become completely warped by the kill-or-be-killed mentality of the New York investment world.

                      “I think my mask of sanity is about to slip.” – Patrick Bateman, American Psycho

                      Institutions rise and fall because of the decisions made on Wall Street. This very crucial location is the setting for countless real life and fictional drama that unfold as quickly as stock prices fluctuate. It’s no surprise that there have been dozens of films capturing the culture and figure of influence on Wall Street. Check out a few of these cinematic gems and see what financial lessons you walk away with.

                      Featured photo credit: Hernan Seoane via flickr.com

                      Advertising

                      More by this author

                      Larry Alton

                      Business Consultant

                      We’ve Been Dreaming of These 10 Inventions, and They’re Almost Here How to Make Someone Who’s Angry at You Suddenly Become Nice (Even If He’s a Stranger!) You Have to Read This Before Going into Your 10 Day Juice Cleanse! boston 5 Historic U.S. Cities You Have to Visit in 2017 How to Teach Your Non-Tech Savvy Parent Some Useful Skills How to Teach Your Non-Tech Savvy Parents Some Useful Skills

                      Trending in Money

                      1 How to Answer the Tough Question: What are Your Salary Requirements? 2 How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money 3 The Definitive Guide to Get Out of Debt Fast (And Forever) 4 35 Real Ways to Actually Make Money Online 5 30 Fun Things To Do With Your Friends Without Spending Much

                      Read Next

                      Advertising
                      Advertising

                      Published on November 8, 2018

                      How to Answer the Tough Question: What are Your Salary Requirements?

                      How to Answer the Tough Question: What are Your Salary Requirements?

                      After a few months of hard work and dozens of phone calls later, you finally land a job opportunity.

                      But then, you’re asked about your salary requirements and your mind goes blank. So, you offer a lower salary believing this will increase your odds at getting hired.

                      Unfortunately, this is the wrong approach.

                      Your salary requirements can make or break your odds at getting hired. But only if you’re not prepared.

                      Ask for a salary too high with no room for negotiation and your potential employer will not be able to afford you. Aim too low and employers will perceive as you offering low value. The trick is to aim as high as possible while keeping both parties feel happy.

                      Of course, you can’t command a high price without bringing value.

                      The good news is that learning how to be a high-value employee is possible. You have to work on the right tasks to grow in the right areas. Here are a few tactics to negotiate your salary requirements with confidence.

                      1. Hack time to accomplish more than most

                      Do you want to get paid well for your hard work? Of course you do. I hate to break it to you, but so do most people.

                      With so much competition, this won’t be an easy task to achieve. That’s why you need to become a pro at time management.

                      Advertising

                      Do you know how much free time you have? Not the free time during your lunch break or after you’ve finished working at your day job. Rather, the free time when you’re looking at your phone or watching your favorite TV show.

                      Data from 2017 shows that Americans spend roughly 3 hours watching TV. This is time poorly spent if you’re not happy with your current lifestyle. Instead, focus on working on your goals whenever you have free time.

                      For example, if your commute to/from work is 1 hour, listen to an educational Podcast. If your lunch break is 30 minutes, read for 10 to 15 minutes. And if you have a busy life with only 30–60 minutes to spare after work, use this time to work on your personal goals.

                      Create a morning routine that will set you up for success every day. Start waking up 1 to 2 hours earlier to have more time to work on your most important tasks. Use tools like ATracker to break down which activities you’re spending the most time in.

                      It won’t be easy to analyze your entire day, so set boundaries. For example, if you have 4 hours of free time each day, spend at least 2 of these hours working on important tasks.

                      2. Set your own boundaries

                      Having a successful career isn’t always about the money. According to Gallup, about 70% of employees aren’t satisfied with their current jobs.[1]

                      Earning more money isn’t a bad thing, but choosing a higher salary over the traits that are the most important to you is. For example, if you enjoy spending time with your family, reject job offers requiring a lot of travel.

                      Here are some important traits to consider:

                      • Work and life balance – The last thing you’d want is a job that forces you to work 60+ hours each week. Unless this is the type of environment you’d want. Understand how your potential employer emphasizes work/life balance.
                      • Self-development opportunities – Having the option to grow within your company is important. Once you learn how to do your tasks well, you’ll start becoming less engaged. Choose a company that encourages employee growth.
                      • Company culture – The stereotypical cubicle job where one feels miserable doesn’t have to be your fate. Not all companies are equal in culture. Take, for example, Google, who invests heavily in keeping their employees happy.[2]

                      These are some of the most important traits to look for in a company, but there are others. Make it your mission to rank which traits are important to you. This way you’ll stop applying to the wrong companies and stay focused on what matters to you more.

                      Advertising

                      3. Continuously invest in yourself

                      Investing in yourself is the best investment you can make. Cliche I know, but true nonetheless.

                      You’ll grow as a person and gain confidence with the value you’ll be able to bring to others. Investing in yourself doesn’t have to be expensive. For example, you can read books to expand your knowledge in different fields.

                      Don’t get stuck into the habit of reading without a purpose. Instead, choose books that will help you expand in a field you’re looking to grow. At the same time, don’t limit yourself to reading books in one subject–create a healthy balance.

                      Podcasts are also a great medium to learn new subjects from experts in different fields. The best part is they’re free and you can consume them on your commute to/from work.

                      Paid education makes sense if you have little to no debt. If you decide to go back to school, be sure to apply for scholarships and grants to have the least amount of debt. Regardless of which route you take to make it a habit to grow every day.

                      It won’t be easy, but this will work to your advantage. Most people won’t spend most of their free time investing in themselves. This will allow you to grow faster than most, and stand out from your competition.

                      4. Document the value you bring

                      Resumes are a common way companies filter employees through the hiring process. Here’s the big secret: It’s not the only way you can showcase your skills.

                      To request for a higher salary than most, you have to do what most are unwilling to do. Since you’re already investing in yourself, make it a habit to showcase your skills online.

                      A great way to do this is to create your own website. Pick your first and last name as your domain name. If this domain is already taken, get creative and choose one that makes sense.

                      Advertising

                      Here are some ideas:

                      • joesmith.com
                      • joeasmith.com
                      • joesmithprojects.com

                      Nowadays, building a website is easy. Once you have your website setup, begin producing content. For example, if you a developer you can post the applications you’re building.

                      During your interviews, you’ll have an online reference to showcase your accomplishments. You can use your accomplishments to justify your salary requirements. Since most people don’t do this, you’ll have a higher chance of employers accepting your offer

                      5. Hide your salary requirements

                      Avoid giving you salary requirements early in the interview process.

                      But if you get asked early, deflect this question in a non-defensive manner. Explain to the employer that you’d like to understand your role better first. They’ll most likely agree with you; but if they don’t, give them a range.

                      The truth is great employers are more concerned about your skills and the value you bring to the company. They understand that a great employee is an investment, able to earn them more than their salary.

                      Remember that a job interview isn’t only for the employer, it’s also for you. If the employer is more interested in your salary requirements, this may not be a good sign. Use this question to gauge if the company you’re interviewing is worth working for.

                      6. Do just enough research

                      Research average salary compensation in your industry, then wing it.

                      Use tools like Glassdoor to research the average salary compensation for your industry. Then leverage LinkedIn’s company data that’s provided with its Pro membership. You can view a company’s employee growth and the total number of job openings.

                      Advertising

                      Use this information to make informed decisions when deciding on your salary requirements. But don’t limit yourself to the average salary range. Companies will usually pay you more for the value you have.

                      Big companies will often pay more than smaller ones.[3] Whatever your desired salary amount is, always ask for a higher amount. Employers will often reject your initial offer. In fact, offer a salary range that’ll give you and your employer enough room to negotiate.

                      7. Get compensated by your value

                      Asking for the salary you deserve is an art. On one end, you have to constantly invest in yourself to offer massive value. But this isn’t enough. You also have to become a great negotiator.

                      Imagine requesting a high salary and because you bring a lot of value, employers are willing to pay you this. Wouldn’t this be amazing?

                      Most settle for average because they’re not confident with what they have to offer. Most don’t invest in themselves because they’re not dedicated enough. But not you.

                      You know you deserve to get paid well, and you’re willing to put in the work. Yet, you won’t sacrifice your most important values over a higher salary.

                      The bottom line

                      You’ve got what it takes to succeed in your career. Invest in yourself, learn how to negotiate, and do research. The next time you’re asked about your salary requirements, you won’t fumble.

                      You’ll showcase your skills with confidence and get the salary you deserve. What’s holding you back now?

                      Featured photo credit: LinkedIn Sales Navigator via unsplash.com

                      Reference

                      Read Next