3 Best Trading Documentaries 2017
Trading can be a lonely experience. Many of day traders in the UK and around the World reportedly don’t know a single other day trader whom they’ve met in real life. Online communities can help, but like all social media, often present the most manicured version of another retail trader’s life. If you truly want to experience the warm thrills of trading voyeurism, admiration and schadenfreude that comes with watching another trader go through their failures and successes, then perhaps I could induce you to try the humble trading documentary. We have selected the 3 best trading documentaries currently free to air on YouTube.
A rare breed in the modern world of 7 minute YouTube videos; these full length documentaries may be a little out-of-sight for many traders. Others of you, I am sure, will have seen or heard of some. There are a few out there, not all great. Here I have curated just three, but focused on those which I feel give the best insight for day traders into how people like them, both retail traders and ‘floor’ trading pros go about their business.
There are some great learning moments here, but also, frankly, some good old fashioned voyeurism. And I know you love that!
Traders: Millions By the Minute
One of the best trading documentaries ever made. This two-part BBC2 offering became an instant classic upon its release in 2014. The reason? It is entirely relatable.
Episode one charts the ‘pros’. The people who do this for a living through an institution. The people the newspapers call ‘bankers’ and your lefty mates pejoratively call ‘The One Percent’. Part two focuses on a selection of day traders. It takes you into the homes and lives of ‘retail traders’ like you and me and shows us their various successes and, more often, failures.
If you have any experience in trading whatsoever then part two will make your eyes water! If you are convinced you are the worst trader on earth, then this programme will give you hope. If you are already The Shit and looking for someone to laugh at (you terrible person you) then it will give you that too. But there are quality traders to learn from too, so it isn’t all base voyeurism!
Similar to any group of traders, it’s a mixed bag. As Jeremy Irons would no doubt say: “there have always been and there always will be, the same percentage of winners and losers, happy f*cks and sacks, fat cats and starving dogs’. Hopefully watching this trading documentary will help keep you content, obese and feline.
Million Dollar Traders
The BBC documentary that launched Lex Van Damme as a force in the trader education space. A hedge fund manager, Lex sought to emulate the successes of the Turtle Trader programme and teach eight novices to trade with his own money. Filmed during the 2008 financial meltdown, produced by the BBC and narrated by The Walking Dead’s Andrew Lincoln, this is proper television.
An intense watch; this is part trading documentary, part reality TV. I’m not personally a fan of reality TV and some of the whingeing is a little off-putting, but there are some trading gems here. This show teaches that one vital lesson - you have to trade like a professional. The people that think they can wing it, or that everyone should be nice to them (including the market itself) cannot succeed. It also demonstrates that trading is not for the faint-hearted and the ability to be dispassionate, perhaps even cold, is key to success.
Play this game: after the first 15 minutes see if you can guess which two contestants will be the most successful at the end of part three.
A beautifully shot, poignant documentary that examines a group of Chicago floor traders as they struggle to remain relevant in the age of computer trading. The character studies alone are enough reason to watch this documentary.
This is one of the best trading documentaries you could watch as a retail trader - although you’ll be doing your trading through a screen these people still trade their own money in real-time and have made millions doing it. If you need belief that you can succeed, then you’ll find someone successful to relate to in this documentary.
But be warned - it falls into the trap of glamourising trading. This isn’t a problem from an ‘ethical’ point of view. Rather, if you become a trader in 2017 because you believe it will be glamorous, or anything like trading in the Chicago pit, then you are setting yourself up to be disappointed and probably lose a lot of money!
The stories here will be victim to survivorship bias. It is clear that a rubbish floor trader would not have lasted a week in that job. All of these traders with their big houses and nice cars are by default the successful traders. Don’t be fooled into thinking that this game is easy!
But, enjoy it for what it is - a well crafted, thoughtful and sensitive documentary that gives an insight into the inner turmoil that comes with any ‘master of the universe’ who finds himself suddenly irrelevant.