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The banking sector needs a star to bring it out of the dog house

08/05/15

Films and TV go a long way towards shaping the public’s perception of particular industries, with many young people feeling inspired to pursue a career on the back of big screen dramatisations.

Mad Men has poured glamour over the 1960s advertising world, and the legal profession’s appeal has been enhanced by its depictions in Suits and LA Law  - far beyond what many litigators would consider realistic.

 There are also several negative depictions of these industries in film and TV. For every smooth old-fashioned sipping Don Draper there’s a washed up John Self in Money. However, there is one industry to which TV and film have been a little more unbalanced in their depictions of its employees – banking.

From the greed-mongering Gordon Gecko in Wall Street to the drug-addled Jordan Belfort in the Wolf of Wall Street, bankers are depicted almost across the board as perverted, greedy and narcissistic. Good portrayals of bankers are few and far between – even the Shawshank Redemption’s hero, New England banker Andy Dufresne, doesn’t come across as a particularly exciting individual.  Indeed, when it comes to bankers on the screen there is only room for the brash and the boring.

It would be great to see a prominent fictional banker who doesn’t add further fuel to the industry’s image problem. The depiction of wild, self-absorbed bankers is for the most part glaringly inaccurate- in my experience finance professionals are hard-working and genuine people.  While fictional bankers make for great entertainment, they certainly make for poor generalisations about the sector.

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