If you’re one of those traders who just can’t seem to keep away from the trading world, but still need a movie suggestion for an at-home date night with your significant other, this is a list of trading movies for you.
Some people just can’t unlink business from pleasure. Inevitably, during a night out on the town, these folks will bring up their workplace woes as others try harder and harder to forget their 9-5 grind. But day traders choose to leave that life behind when they decide to take their hobby full-time, which is what makes this unholy mix a little more palatable for Stocks to Trade’s customers.
Investment banker Patrick Bateman, portrayed by the dashing Christian Bale, spends his nights dining at trendy New York restaurants and maintaining his relationship with fiancé Evelyn and their group of ill-mannered moneyed elites, who seem to care for little more than material pleasures. The crooked nature of the film really begins to show when the high-profile bankers begin comparing business cards for an ego boost. Bateman’s colleague, Paul Allen, flaunts the fanciest title, fueling the main character’s murder of a homeless man and his dog in the streets.
Bateman goes on to kill Allen, torture prostitutes, and murder multiple women in a frightening series of events. If you’re looking to cuddle with someone in fear tonight, make this the movie you watch tonight.
This one is a biographical film describing the life and crimes of trader Nick Lesson, who rose to become the General Manager of the Trading Floor on the SIMEX exchange in Singapore, only to eventually lose $1 billion in trade deals. He uses a special 88888 error account to hide losses as he gambles away funds from Barings Bank to the tune of wealthy personalities based in London. To escape the ridiculous failure in ethics that is his career in finance, he and his family become fugitives of the law in Malaysia. If you need a refresher course on the value of loyalty and ethical trading, this is THE story to hear.
The Wolf of Wall Street
I know, I know. This one’s a little on-the-nose. But Leonardo di Caprio’s portrayal of Jordan Belfort is fit to be watched over and over again. Its vulgarity is real and gut-wrenching, but consider it a cleaned-up version of American Psycho. Belfort does not murder anyone – whether it be a competitor or a prostitute – but his unethical trading and money laundering practices do have implications in the legal realm. Watching the FBI catch Belfort is almost sad, but his character eventually becomes so reviled that the audience begins cheering for law enforcement. The good thing about watching this movie is that you’ve probably already watched it before, so you can chat it up with your best friend under the covers and tune in during conversational lulls.
This crime drama follows the activities of Seth Davis, a 19-year-old illegal casino owner who gets recruited to the high-brow brokerage firm J.T. Martin on Wall Street after catching the eye of a wealthy patron. The initial job is simple: close 40 accounts and pass the Series 7 financial test to progress your career. The murky business strategy of the firm becomes clear when the implications of the pump-and-dump strategy are explained. Brokers create fake demand for expired, fake, or penny-stock companies until trained traders catch the bluff. The price of the stock plummets, and investors lose their money.
The movies on this list follow the life of someone breaking securities low to make undue revenues. The protagonists are “evil” and ostensibly deserve the regulatory crackdown they eventually face. This story is different though. Davis agrees to work with the FBI to bring his employer down. If you need to restore your faith in Wall Street and the people that work there, this film should go a long way.
Wall Street’s immortal catchphrase “Blue Horseshoe loves Anacott Steel” lives on in the minds of the young financial professionals who were inspired to study for their Series 7s after watching this film. The illegal practice deeply explored in this version of the cliché “financial servicemen are bad” movie is insider trading. Again, the luxurious and hedonistic lifestyles of brokers are portrayed as erotic and grotesque at the same time. What makes this movie unique is how real trading firms have taken to using footage from the film in their recruiting efforts. Comparatively, insider trading is a much more benign crime than murder or the deliberate perversion of facts to make fake sales.
Margin Call covers a 24-hour period in the life of a failing Wall Street firm, using complex derivatives markets to mask losses. The events in this movie occur before the 2008 financial crisis and speak to the foresight of traders who anticipated a financial crisis, but did little to stop it. Pour a glass of wine with this one; it really hurts the heart.