In this post I want to talk about one of my top 5 favourite TV-show ever: BILLIONS. I’m a big fan of TV-shows, usually I like them more than movies because the format being longer you can really get into details and characters’ stories. Billions is definitely one of them.
I started to watch because the show is based on the hedge fund industry and I’ve always been fascinated with it. After reading Hedge Fund Market Wizards by Jack Schwager and More Money Than God by Sebastian Mallaby I was totally hooked – they’re both amazing books with captivating stories.
I wanted to know more about this industry: what they do, how they do, who works there but not surprisingly there’s not much material shared online, it’s heavily protected by secrecy as no-one wants to share their edge. Till I found Billions… The show exposes viewers to the genius and dirty tricks of hedge fund managers, as well as the relentless pursuit of these tycoons by U.S. attorneys. I’m pretty sure that the series exaggerates some scenes for entertainment value, but still it reflects much of what is reality, as stated by many hedge funders in this article.
The show is brilliant, the dialogues are so well written and full of lessons, not only related to finance and trading. Few days ago I shared a quote on my Twitter from Wendy Rhoades, the psychiatrist and performance coach of the fund, and that went viral (for my standards, lol – I’m not that popular online). So I realised that many people liked the show in my traders’ network and decided to include the most valuable lessons I got from the series.
- Big guys: bet late and bet heavy. Numbers tell the story. S02E01
Bobby Axelrod talks to his lawyer about a strategy to get him out of trouble. In doing so he includes several trading lessons: how to follow smart money, risk management (how much to lose now vs before when he had nothing) and the power of leverage (the role of his opponent against himself with several lawsuits).
- Become antifragile, or die. S02E07
Taylor Mason – one of Bobby’s pupils – probably the smartest person in the room – gives a lesson about ruthless and survivorship. This is Nassim Taleb’s concept applied at its best. If you haven’t read the book (Antifragile) I highly recommend it.
- Those who can do math and explain become billionaires. S02E11
Bobby Axelrod and Mike Wagner (aka Wags: Bobby Axelrod’s right hand man is the COO of Axe Capital) give a lesson of “compassion” and the importance of human relationship in finance, asymmetrical returns on people. It’s a funny scene but with much value between the lines imo.
- A great trader feels nothing. S03E01
This is the video from the tweet I mentioned above of the quote from Wendy Rhoades. The scene is so good. She reminds Bobby of what matters and what it takes to be a great trader.
- The elegance of success. S05E08
This scene is from the last season (at the moment of writing) and it’s so good. Taylor explains to her pupil what it takes to do what she does, what she’ll need to give up and what are the rewards.
If you haven’t watched already and you like trading I think it’s worth the watch. As always: opinions expressed here are my own, you don’t have to agree with them. But if you like what you read (and see) then you’re welcome to subscribe to the newsletter for future’s blog posts. Have a nice day.