Several frightening forces converge in the industry’s financial drama: blatant bosses, bad market betting and relentless pressure. But perhaps the most terrifying of all, at least for their superiors, are the 20-year-olds willing to unseat their elders.
Intergenerational tensions between the old guard and the starving youth escalate into the second season of the HBO show, which begins Monday. The series is about young bankers in a fictional London company Pierpoint & Co. transports. This concern goes to the character Eric Tao, played by Ken Leung. In the waters of the trading floor, the 50-year-old managing director of cross-product sales It is shark and shark bait.
“Young men terrify him, unless he is able to control him,” says one of the arrivals.
What makes the show even more real is knowing that its characters and stories are taken from real life, as creators Mickey Dawn and Konrad Kay have combined headlines, short financial careers, and interviews with financial executives into the scenarios. Eric’s initial inspiration came from someone in his banking orbit – a money manager who they said was still unaware of the connection to the show.
The world is coming out of covid in the show. At Pierpoint, bosses are impatient with their followers who want to keep working remotely. The drama is about meme shares, the real-life deals that have gained a huge following on social media. Eric’s white-knit commercial breakfasts and mega-investor weekends don’t fit the disruptive landscape shaped by reckless newcomers, including the billionaire profiting from the pandemic.
The new season begs the question: if experience isn’t always useful and seniority is no longer given, what’s the point of Eric?
“It’s a very young game,” said Dawn, 33, who was formerly at Rothschild & Co..
, reiterating what industry insiders have told them about their experiences in finance. “It’s a place where youth and leadership are done and the first glimpse of ambition is truly rewarded.”
The show finds Eric fighting for his job against three competitors, hiring them all. This includes his student in the office next door, Harper Stern, played by Mihala Herold.
The book researched and found intergenerational tensions on topics such as wealth. Cutting a line from an early text made Harper break what Mr. Dawn calls the basic rule of thumb for a financial job interview: Don’t say you want to make money. Harper says it clearly. It’s what some in finance call a “safety in the bag” mindset, or direct guidance about the pursuit of wealth and success.
Mr. Dawn said, referring to conversations he and the team had with executives while researching the offer. “Generation Z recruits have absolutely no qualms about saying they want to be successful. They say, ‘I want to get paid.’”
The financial world has moved over the decades towards greater diversity and inclusion, and the choice of presentation reflects this. But the series also argues that the industry in essence will never change.
Mr Kay, 34, who previously worked for Morgan Stanley, said:.
Of course they will go to their basic animal instincts: ‘How do I get strength? Who keeps it from me? How do I keep it to myself? “
As the story resumes, Eric’s accusations make money, but he’s not. As their boss, Eric argues that the team’s successes are also its successes. But he was told it was no less good than his last deal.
“On the show he talks about, ‘Think about all you’ve accomplished,'” said Mr. Leung, 52, and his boss said, ‘None of that matters – what matters is what you did this week.’ He has to find new muscle to exercise. The season “finds itself again.”
At one point, Eric is “promoted” to a corner desk comparing it to the coffin.
“Something tells you how obsessed with culture is that we’re talking about a 50-year-old man like a dinosaur,” said Jamie O’Brien, 48, a writer and executive producer for the series.
Eric is the voice of the establishment and as an Asian man in a historically white, alien world. He sways with a baseball bat on his desk but fights for his team’s increases. A creature from the floor of the trade, he clipped his toenails in a trash as if he were in his own bathroom.
“A lot of my friends who work in finance say it causes PTSD,” said Mr. Leung. And then there are other people like, ‘I was going to die so I could have a boss like you. “
Before college, Mr. Leung briefly worked as a temporary Wall Street clerk feeding financial documents into microwaves. Shocked by the noise and heat behind the outside cold of the financial district buildings.
One of the main resources of the actor: accompanying his son in an elementary school. A parent who works in finance had morning meetings with his team over the phone while driving. With permission, Mr. Leung listened from the passenger seat. “It organically gave me a sense of the texture of this world,” he said.
Mr. Leung, a native New Yorker of Chinese descent, played Miles Strom, a volatile medium in the ABC television drama “Lost.” His film credits include roles in Brett Ratner’s “Rush Hour”, Spike Lee’s “Sucker Free City”, and M. Night Shyamalan in “Old”.
Actor Eric is shown grappling with his priorities in the back-to-office world.
“He was driven to win and excel at his job,” said Ms. O’Brien. The pandemic made him wonder, ‘Was that a good enough cause? “He’s having a bit of an existential crisis at the age of 50.
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