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In Showtime’s new drama Billions, it’s an all-out battle between wealth and power. The series, which debuts January 17, is the latest financial drama to chronicle the massive success – and downfall – of Wall Street financiers.
The contemporary fictional story follows the struggle between a charismatic hedge fund manager (Damian Lewis) and a power-hungry lawyer, played by Paul Giamatti, known for his roles in Saving Private Ryan and Sideways.
Damian Lewis, who starred in Homeland, plays the hedge fund billionaire Bobby Axelrod, whose success has caught the attention of Giamatti’s character Chuck Rhoades, a big shot New York City district attorney. Rhoades suspects Axelrod’s investment company of insider trading and is after blood.
“A good matador doesn’t kill a fresh bull — you wait until he’s been stuck a few times,” Giamatti’s character threatens in the trailer.
Creators Brian Koppelman and David Levien, who have been friends since their teenage years, collaborated with Andrew Ross Sorkin, the New York Times reporter and author of the book Too Big to Fail.
Koppelman and Levien, along with Sorkin, spent months shadowing Wall Street fund managers, taking investors out to dinner, and meeting with other banking insiders to paint a realistic picture for the audience. And of course added lots of suspense, sex, and sultry language. You can watch the first episode of Billions here (please note: might not be available in certain countries).
“We’ve been long fascinated by billionaires, by what it means to be a self-made billionaire, because to us they’re American kings, they’re oligarchs. And a huge question to us is what kind of person needs a billion dollars,” Koppelman said in an interview with Marketplace.
Like many shows and movies before it, Billions offers a look into the corporate culture of the ultra rich, as well as the very rich lawyers trying to take them down for gaming the system. It’s a storyline that has been told many times over, in The Wolf of Wall Street, The Big Short, Margin Call, and dozens of other finance-focused films.
The creators hope the tv show strikes a chord with audience, and makes them rethink greed and politics that drive the economy.
“What we hope to do is highlight the inner conflict that we all have and the societal conflict. We watch the circus that is the political process and hear the grandstanding,” said Koppelman.
In anticipation of the series’ launch, Wealth-X, a think tank which produces intelligence on ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWI), has partnered with the advertising arm of the Wall Street Journal to produce an extensive portrait of America’s 585 billionaires. The research, published on January 13, contains some notable surprises, most crucially the revelation that, contrary to popular opinion, the majority (62%) of US billionaires created rather than inherited their fortunes.
Source of Wealth % of US Billionaires – Number of US Billionaires
Self-Made 62% – 363
Inheritance 20% – 117
Inheritance/Self-Made 18% – 105
Top Industries % of US Billionaires – Number of US Billionaires
Finance/Banking/Investing 19.4% – 114
Non-Profit & Social Organizations 6.6% – 39
Industrial Conglomerates 5.5% – 32
Luxury Assets % of US Billionaires – Number of US Billionaires
Plane 17.4% – 102
Yacht 9.9% – 58
Art 8.2% – 48
Collectables 8.0% – 47
Sports Team 4.8% – 28
Here at FinBuzz we have looked through the research and come up with a few tips that could, just maybe, help propel you into the ranks of the global super-rich.
Contrary to received wisdom and the rallying cries of populist politicians, a comfortable majority of billionaires are self-made individuals. So while it would be foolhardy to deny that the lottery of birth is irrelevant, it would be just as foolish to claim that the road to success can be travelled only by the select few. In short, if you’re talented and ambitious, then with a little luck and a lot of hard work the sky’s the limit!
…Unless you’re a woman
Sorry about that one. Male billionaires outnumber female billionaires in the US by six to one. That’s a pretty shocking example of the glass ceiling right there. Nevertheless, ambitious women determined to rise to the ranks of the super-rich should bear in mind that if successful your achievement will be six-times more noteworthy than those of your male peers.
Patience is key
While the media flock to the Silicon-Valley tech entrepreneurs like moths to a flame, Wealth-X’s research reveals that the vast majority (81%) of US billionaires are over the age of 55. Keep making the right decisions, always be on the lookout for new opportunities, and you could be joining them!
Work in finance
Of all the various sectors of the economy, finance and banking boasts the largest proportion (19.4%) of billionaires. So if you work in finance, give yourselves a pat on the back; you’re already one step closer to owning the yacht or football club you’ve always dreamed of!