6 awesome things hit show Billions says about today’s financial industry

what billions says about the finance industry

It wasn’t a huge surprise when Showtime’s “Billions” was renewed for a second season in late January. The first season of the show portrays the interplay between a hedge fund manager, Bobby “Axe” Axelrod and the regulators trying to bring him down. It’s a great game of cat and mouse that has done a great job marketing to and building an audience of financial professionals.

People love this show: it had nearly 3 million viewers for its premiere and ended its first season with an audience of 6.5 million, according to Showtime.

Part of Billions’ appeal is its genuinely realistic portrayal of the financial industry: from the fleece vests traders wear, to the games played on the trading floor, to the lingo used discussing a trading idea in front of a Bloomberg machine.

Here are 6  things that Billions says about today’s financial industry:

1. Hedge funds can make things really hard for corporate CEOs (and make them spill their coffee)

In this scene, a CEO of a family-owned Twinkie business receives a call from IR saying that Axe Capital was amassing a position in his firm’s stock. He’s not too happy.

2. The industry isn’t well liked by the average man on the street

After word gets out that Axe was busy trading the terrible news on 9/11 while his partners perished, he becomes kind of persona non grata. Employees of his firm aren’t lionized like techies at Facebook or Google are. They have to stomach some anger directed at them (as well as some flotsam and jetsam thrown their way).

3. In spite of all the tech surrounding them, finance types still use the phone

In an industry that employs super smart and industrious people, finance has always been one of the largest consumers of technology. Funny, people still prefer to use phones to discuss trading ideas and negotiating deals, avoiding putting things into the written word. This works to the advantage of Paul Giamatti’s character, Chuck Rhoades, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. He’s busy bugging and monitoring Axe Capital’s trading discussions in pursuit of finding inside information.

4. You’re more likely to hear Metallica playing in a top financial firm than Vivaldi’s Four Seasons

Axe loves Metallica. And frankly, who doesn’t. In one episode, he rounds up his high school buddies and flies them out on a private jet to see a show. Bonus: they also get backstage and get to hang out and shmooze with Lars. These guys like to party. Hard.

5. Finance has its own codes, people who stay love it
Axe is passionate about building value in his firm for all stakeholders. He’s proud of what he’s built and he works extremely hard to keep growing it, no matter what adversity comes at him. He does it because he cares and loves what he does.

6. Finance guys turn into good family men

Axe has every chance in the world to cheat on his wife. He doesn’t. He has every chance in the world to work long hours and miss putting his kids to bed. He doesn’t. He’s a family man at heart and that’s more important to him than anything. Here’s Axe driving his kids around. Look at that big ol’ grin.


5 trends we’re watching this week

5 trends in finance this week

[alert type=yellow ]Every week at Tradestreaming, we’re tracking and analyzing the top trends impacting the finance industry. The following is a list of important things going on we think are worth paying attention to. For more in depth trendfollowing, subscribe to Tradestreaming’s newsletters .[/alert]

1. ‘Slack Finance’: The rise of the message-like interfaces in financial services (Tradestreaming)
What’s interesting about some of the new automated financial services is that they look a heck of a lot like SMS. Will we bank in the future by chatting to bots? Maybe.

2. The financial industry is having its Napster moment (Bloomberg)
Just as Napster and iTunes reshaped the modern music industry, more asset managers are switching from high-priced, actively managed mutual funds to passive, low-cost ETFs and index funds. That’s entirely changing their firms’ economics.

Read also: BlackRock’s ETF golden goose may be killing jobs (Bloomberg)

3. The rise of the automated trading desk (Tradestreaming)
Coming to a trading desk near you. The machines are on their way. It’s no longer enough to employ algorithmic trading — now we’ve got artificial intelligence to tell us which algo to use and when.

4. Welcome to the ‘havoc’ phase of fintech disruption (American Banker)
2 Forrester analysts describe where we are in the financial technology growth cycle:
In the long run, the role of digital leaders at incumbent financial firms will be to embrace digital business transformation and to partner with fintech companies that center on customers’ increasing empowerment and evolving needs.

5. Fintech U.: Leading universities increasingly offer fintech specialization (Tradestreaming)
Will your kids be able to get a degree in fintech? It’s looking more and more that way as leading universities introduce fintech curricula.