“Money Monster” is a movie that was released in May 2016 that stars George Clooney and Julia Roberts. This movie was directed by Jodie Foster and centers around the effect of taking investment advice from a financial TV show. In this movie, the TV show is called “Money Monster” and is hosted by George Clooney who plays Lee Gates. Julia Roberts plays Patty Fenn who is the producer for this money show.
Lee Gates (George Clooney) uses gimmicks and flashy presentation to give financial investment advice to his viewers. As you watch the movie, you get a few glimpses into how far Lee goes to get his viewers to tune in. It’s like watching TMZ giving out financial advice. The movie then goes on to a live episode amidst a huge financial crisis where a publicly traded company (IBIS Clear Capital) loses it’s shareholders $800 million dollars due to a “computer glitch.” During the live taping Kyle Budwell (played by Jack O’Connell) who invested $60,000 in the company sneaks on to the set with a gun and bomb to get revenge on Lee Gates for telling investors that buying IBIS shares was better than putting money into a savings account.
The movie then goes on a wild journey in which Lee, Patty and Kyle try to figure out what really happened with the $800 million dollars in order to save Lee’s life as well as bring IBIS’s CEO Walt Camby (played by Dominic West) to justice. This movie was ok, not Theatre worthy but a good movie to watch at home on a Saturday night. I also found this movie to be predictable but the topic and the attempt to make the movie thrilling with surprises and the potential death of Lee Gates, does keep you watching.
The premise of the movie may be a bit exaggerated and extravagant. However, we have experienced many financial disasters and pressing times where some questions posed by this film becomes realistic and relevant.
Here are 4 financial questions I feel are worth talking about that “Money Monster” attempts to answer.
1.Should you trust financial TV shows?
I would gather that the TV show hosts are presenting information to their viewers that were researched by someone behind the scenes. This would be similar to the information you can get on the news stations, information that is available readily to those with the right resources and access. I believe there are good TV shows that give good financial advice. However, these shows would never give you an investment “guarantee” or any false claims that would amount to a get rich scheme. As an investor, our number one task is to ensure we know what we’re investing in. We should do as much research as possible to learn about these products. This could include reading books, listening to podcasts, watching the news and ,yes, watching a financial TV show. So while there are some good financial shows out there, we should never trust solely on their advice. Here is a blog post on some good financial TV shows. I know about The Dave Ramsey Show and The Suze Orman (no longer on air) show which I believe do/did offer good advice.
In “Money Monster”, after the gimmicks stop because Lee’s life is on the line, we see how far Patty the producer goes to get information on the $800 million dollar computer glitch. We see the time, resources and efforts being taken by the show to get the CEO to tell the investors the truth. If “Money Monster” had taken such steps and been more serious from the get go, perhaps Lee wouldn’t be held hostage and his viewers would have benefited from better financial advice.
2. How much money should you invest?
So once you’ve done your due diligence and have found an investment you’d like to get into, how much should you invest? In this movie, Kyle Budwell foolishly invested all of his savings of $60,000 into one stock. Yes, he was “lied to” in a sense but we’ve all heard the saying “don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” This saying is true when it comes to what is essentially your life’s savings. Kyle’s girlfriend was not happy when she found out how much money he had lost, she really laid into him in one scene. There are many factors one should consider when they’re deciding on a dollar figure to invest. Here are some factors to consider:
- Expenses that need to be paid (including outstanding debt), you don’t want to lose all your money and still be left with a large amount of debt as well
- Risk level you’re willing to take
- Length of time you’re willing to invest for
- Your financial state if you were to lose this amount
Of course these factors are not an extensive list and speaking with a trusted financial advisor would bring to light other issues that you would need to consider. In the world of investing, it can take a few seconds, hours or days to lose what you’ve taken a lifetime to build up. So proceed with as much caution as possible and really consider your situation before you invest in anything.
3. Is fraud ok when you’re winning?
The obvious answer to this question is no, fraud is never ok. However in the movie “Money Matters” the CEO at the midst of the financial crisis said that investors didn’t care when his company was making big returns for them. He said they only care about the possibility of fraud now that they are losing money. The point the CEO was making in the movie is a good one to consider. When we’re investing, we should do our best to consider the possibility of unethical or fraudulent practices being committed by these companies. The risk of the high rewards that fraudulent companies can earn their investors is not worth the pitfalls that will eventually follow. There are few companies that can truly make money doing fraudulent activities, chances are any profits are a result of a temporary solution that will eventually come crumbling down. Research goes a long way in doing our best to avoid fraudulent investments. Some common sayings regarding fraud are true and should be considered before investing:
- If it sounds too good to be true, then it is and you should avoid investing no matter how good the returns seem
- Don’t believe anything that offers a 100% guarantee, nothing in life is guaranteed
- If you are being pressured in any way to give money, it is likely some form of fraud, you should be able to take your time and consider investing before doing so
- The “everyone is doing it” or “buying it” spiel is another indicator of fraud, the product should fit your needs and not be something you’re doing because “everyone else is doing it”
4. What is really valuable in life?
Ok this may seem like a loaded question but sometimes we really need to step back and ask ourselves what is truly valuable in life. We live in a society that inundates us with the message that we’re not successful unless we have many possessions and lots of money. And of course there is nothing wrong in wanting financial success. However, at what cost are we pursuing our financial dreams? In this movie, Kyle Budwell would claim that he invested the $60,000 for the benefit of his family. But that’s really misguided, no matter what someone tells you, the money is no longer in your hands when you hand it over to an investment. For someone who has a pregnant girlfriend, investing his inheritance based on one opinion he heard on TV comes off more like a selfish move than one with good intentions.
Aside from doing research and taking the time to learn about investments, the other aspect one should consider is the value of other things in life. Kyle could have used part of his $60,000 to buy the necessary items for his baby such as a crib, stroller, diapers and so on. He could have then taken time to learn and invest in a good education savings account. Those actions would have proven that Kyle cared for his baby. He could have also discussed his decision with his girlfriend. The follow up actions by Kyle, holding a TV host hostage, further proves his selfishness. By committing a crime, Kyle is risking serious jail time which removes himself from his baby’s life as well as a source of income to help provide for his child. Winning a lot of money via risky investing does not fix the character or core problems of an individual. Money in these cases will only serve to further highlight the character of it’s investors, hence why some lottery winners end up in some really difficult situations. Money does not solve all problems, and should not be valued above what really matters.
Value may be relative to an individual, but general consensus would show that family is a high priority in many people’s lives. Family can include a spouse, children, parents, siblings, cousins, distant relatives, adopted family members and friends. Having the love and support of people in our lives can carry more weight than financial gain. When we are diligent with our money, there are still circumstances that can bring some financial distress. It is during these times where family can prove to be such a source of relief and comfort. Kyle should have found solace in his pregnant girlfriend and unborn child rather than taking steps that just makes matters worse. Even the reporter at the forefront of the movie, Lee Gates, didn’t seem to value what truly mattered. Lee was a financial TV show host that valued his popularity and money more than his viewers. Lee used gimmicks and lies to get his viewers to tune in, without considering the consequences of what he was suggesting. Lee eventually turned his ways around when he saw firsthand how his actions were affecting the lives of his viewers.
Money is an inanimate object. It will do as much good and as much bad as the person controlling it. Before we think that money will solve all our problems, we should take time to focus on what truly matters in our lives and then make decisions based on what really matters.
“Money matters” was met with mixed reviews. There were some pretty harsh criticism about the movie and probably with right reasoning. However, personally, I enjoyed the movie as one I can watch from the comfort of my home. It was a great reminder to me that investing should not be taken lightly. It reminded me how easily we can lose money and how damaging the effects can be if we did not do our due diligence before investing. The approach in this movie was a bit far fetched and probably as melodramatic as the TV show at the center of the film. However, the fact that this movie made me ponder the 4 questions above, made this movie worth watching, even if it was just for the life lessons I was left thinking about.