Best financial Documentaries

December 14, 2021
Netflix business documentaries

With famous movies such as "Wall Street" and "The Wolf of Wall Street, " the finance industry has been sensationalized in Hollywood. While these types of movies offer high entertainment value, they don't provide an accurate depiction of what it's really like to be a professional in the world of finance.

For current finance professionals looking to increase their skills, or for aspiring finance professionals looking to break into the industry, finance documentaries are a great way to gain insight and knowledge. (For more, see: The 10 Must Watch Movies For Finance Professionals)

1. "Inside Job"

Broken down into five parts, the film takes the viewer through the U.S. policy changes and banking practices that led to the global financial crisis. It begins by highlighting how the economy was set up to fail, how the bubble grew between 2001 and 2007, how the crisis struck in 2008, who was accountable for the crisis and then a wrap-up of the aftermath.

For a finance professional, this is the number-one documentary to watch. Through an understanding of the history of one of the largest financial crises, it's possible to learn from past mistakes to foresee when something like this can happen again and prevent it from happening. (For more, see:

2. "Trader"

"Trader" follows the intelligent but superstitious trader Paul Tudor Jones, showing him at his best and at his worst. Jones, a hedge fund manager, accurately predicted the 1987 economic downturn, based on a combination of intuition and Elliott Wave graphs.

While Jones is extremely intelligent, he's also extremely superstitious. This highlights the fact that many people within the investment finance industry rely on luck as much as skill and analytics. Sometimes it takes guts along with analysis to make the correct investment decision.

The documentary also follows Jones as he donates his time and money to help New York City children graduate from high school. This underscores the importance of giving back to the community, rather than succumbing to greed.

3. "25 Million Pounds"

"25 Million Pounds" tells the true story of Nick Leeson, a British trader who started his career as a Morgan Stanley clerk and ended up as a lawbreaking rogue trader who brought down Barings, an old British bank. This bank held money for the high powered elite, including the Queen herself. The true story was so compelling that it also inspired the film "Rogue Trader, " which starred Ewan McGregor.

Through interviews with Leeson in the early 1990s, "25 Million Pounds" allows finance professionals a chance to peer into the mind of someone who has dealt with dishonest traders and even committed fraud himself. The interviews highlight Leeson's relationship with the trader Kweku Adoboli, who managed to take over $2 billion from UBS.

4. "Frontline: Breaking the Bank"

By watching "Frontline: Breaking the Bank, " viewers are able to get an understanding of the American banking crisis that led to nearly $800 billion in Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds being accepted by American banks due to reckless management. These funds injected cash into the American banking system and ensured that none of the largest banks would fail.

While some argue that the cash bailout that saved the large American banks from collapsing was necessary, others argue that the bailout subverted free enterprise and capitalism. Understanding the intricacies of the American banking crisis gives finance professionals a better understanding of the interwoven economy and how the free market reacts to crisis.

5. "The Ascent of Money"

Finance professionals who are interested in the complete financial history of the world should definitely put "The Ascent of Money" on their list of documentaries to watch. Niall Ferguson takes viewers through a complete history of the financial world, from the ancient city of Babylon all the way to the 2008 global financial crisis.

"The Ascent of Money" highlights such events as the Babylonian futures contracts and Francisco Pizarro's exploitation of the Cerro Rico at Potosí, a mine that yielded silver for Europe.

Understanding the deep financial history of the world gives finance professionals greater perspective and understanding about how the finance world operates.

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