The financial world has been a great source of inspiration for many cinematographers. Have a look at Netflix or Now TV, and you’ll likely find a plethora of films that feature Wall Street, stock markets, and (in)famous investors. So, what should you watch? Well, here’s a list of films that could teach you about investing. Have a look and pick the ones that tickle your fancy.
Wall Street - 1987
Let’s start with a classic! Oliver Stone’s epic film tells the story of two Wall Street traders (Charlie Sheen and Michael Douglas) who engage in illegal activities and use inside information to make stellar profits. Wall Street is a tale about greed that asks a simple question: ‘what are you willing to do to get rich?’ This film will teach you about morality and remind you that, as an investor, it’s important to play by the rules and control your impulses.
The Big Short - 2015
Based on the book The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis, this film follows a number of investors who’ve noticed the housing bubble in the US and decide to short on it before the financial crisis of 2008 happens. Not only does The Big Short explain how and why the crash happened, it also takes care to debunk the financial jargon, using great cameo appearances from popular celebrities, such as Margot Robbie or Selena Gomez.
The Money Pit - 1986
The Money Pit has a simple, yet compelling plot. The film tells the story of two young lovers (Shelley long and Tom Hanks) looking to settle in the countryside. After some quick research, they decide to buy a house at a bargain price, convinced they’ve just found their dream home. But it soon becomes clear that the house is falling apart, and the young couple ends up spending a lot of money to repair it. If anything, The Money Pit teaches us the importance of knowing what we’re investing in – obviously, the two lovers didn’t spend enough time researching! The film is also here to remind us that if it’s too good to be true, then it probably is.
Rogue Trader - 1999
Based on a true story, Rogue Trader follows Nick Leeson (Ewan McGregor), a young British man working for an investment bank in Singapore. After settling in Asia, the investment broker starts making high-risk, fraudulent trades that end up causing the collapse of the bank he’s working for. This film comes with a valuable lesson about risk management and the importance of financial regulations.
Becoming Warren Buffett - 2017
No list would be complete without this documentary about investment legend and billionaire, Warren Buffett. If you’re wondering how the fourth richest man in the world has made his fortune, then this film is for you1! You’ll also get some insight about his lifestyle and you may be surprised to learn he’s quite a frugal man. Did you know, for example, that he never spends more than $3.17 on breakfast despite his billions2?
Trading Places - 1983
If you want to watch a light-hearted comedy with some valuable lessons about life and money, then Trading Places could be the perfect film for you. This modern-day take on The Prince and Pauper tells the story of a streetwise con artist (Eddie Murphy) who gets to become the manager of a trading firm dealing with commodities – think gold, oil, corn! Although investing isn’t the main focus of the film, the final scene offers an authentic depiction of a somewhat agitated trading session in the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. More importantly though, Trading Places shows that it’s possible to learn about investing and that you don’t need to be a financial wizard to take the plunge – although you do need to do it legitimately!
Too Big to Fail - 2011
Too Big to Fail brings us back to 2008, and focuses on the many attempts from the US central bank (the Fed) to save Lehman Brothers from collapsing. The film gives great insight on the financial crisis and explores the bigger picture by showing the impact of the crash on the US economy. It’s a great piece to watch if you want to understand the pre-2008 financial world – luckily, plenty has changed since and many regulations have been implemented!
Mary Poppins - 1964
No this isn’t a mistake! Mary Poppins does have some interesting lessons about investing. Really, you ask? Well, in one particular scene, Mr Dawes (Dick Van Dyke) convinces one of the children to deposit his money in the bank. The child isn’t much happy about it because he wants to enjoy it now. But Mr Dawes wisely explains that by putting money aside, then his money could grow and benefit from the power of compounding – when profits that are put back in your savings pot start generating further profits. In this scene, we’re taught that it’s important to plan for the future and resist our preference for instant gratification – after all, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your wealth.
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Please remember the value of your investments can go down as well as up, and you could get back less than invested.