Rudy Giuliani makes a habit of referring to “The Godfather” as “one of the best narratives on business management ever produced.” An interesting take on the bloody crime classic, but not easily dismissed coming from a two-term mayor of one of the world’s largest metropolitan areas and whose official title is now Sir Rudolph William Louis Giuliani, KBE (seriously).
It got us thinking of other celluloid pearls of wisdom that translate to real life. With that in mind, here are 10 films that offer quality financial advice in addition to quality entertainment.
1). “The Family Man” (2000)
Uber-successful investment banker Jack wakes up one morning to find his narcissistic existence completely changed. He now has a wife and kids and a job at his father-in-law’s local tire shop. Confused and frustrated by his new surroundings, Jack contemplates an affair with a neighbor. Best-friend Arnie comes up with this classic bit of advice, true in love and in money:
“Flirtation is harmless, but you’re dealing with fire here. The fidelity bank and trust is a tough creditor. You make a deposit somewhere else, they close your account—FOREVER.”
2). “Boiler Room” (2000)
Vin Diesel as a crooked stockbroker? Puh-lease … If he ain’t crashing cars, we ain’t watching (and most of America agreed, judging from box office receipts). Giovanni Ribisi is a college dropout who’s estranged from his family. But of course he’s actually really smart, and gets a job as a broker for an investment firm that turns out to be—surprise—a boiler room.
It’s hard to watch, as one client (sucker) is a family man trying to buy a new house. The crooked activity gets the innocent man into an impossible financial situation, and his wife and children leave him. A crisis of conscience from the main character appears to rectify the situation by movie’s end:
“I had a very strong work ethic. The problem was my ethics in work.”
3). “Changing Lanes” (2002)
The next time you’re in an accident while on your way to file court papers in a complicated scheme to defraud high-net-worth clients, don’t leave the scene. Ben Affleck didn’t follow our advice, and Samuel L. Jackson exacts his revenge, setting off a depressing chain of events as each man tries to destroy the other, only to seemingly cement their tragic fate. In other words, a light-hearted comedy the whole family can enjoy!
Ben Affleck as character Gavin Banek: “Sometimes God likes to put two guys in a paper bag and just let ‘em rip.”
4). “Working Girl” (1988)
It’s doubtful a title that references prostitution for a movie about women and high finance would get the green light today (thank God), but the movie itself did a great job of detailing the challenges women faced when attempting to enter the Wall Street good-old-boys club a quarter of a century ago. We’ll try to forget the real-life inspiration for the movie’s main character, Tess McGill, was one of the first people convicted in the insider trader scandals that hit New York in the 1980s, which makes the following quote from the movie unintentionally appropriate:
“You can bend the rules plenty once you get to the top, but not while you’re trying to get there. And if you’re someone like me, you can’t get there without bending the rules.”
5). “Rogue Trader” (1999)
This fictionalized version of real-life events recounts the exploits of Nick Leeson, a trader in the early 1990s for Barings Bank whose risky bets brought down the 233-year-old institution that, among other assets, housed the finances of the British Royal Family. If, at your own firm, you find yourself in charge of multiple trading accounts that are supposed to act as checks and balances on each other, do the smart thing and walk away, or you’ll find yourself making statements like this:
“I, Nicholas Leeson, have just lost 50 million quid … in one day.”
6). “Other People’s Money” (1991)