Practical analysis for investment professionals
02 January 2014

Best Polls of 2013: Films, Careers, and News

We all have some lingering questions in our mind to which we want to know an answer. Sometimes the best way to answer that question is by an opinion poll. That is why every week we pose a survey question to our 60,000 subscribers to CFA Institute Financial Newsbrief. The response gathered from these professionals helps answer such questions. Sometimes, the answer is what you would expect — but often it isn’t.

And that’s what makes polls all the more insightful and fun.

WHAT READERS TOLD US ABOUT FINANCE FILMS

One of our most popular posts of 2013 was the post on the top 20 films about finance. It got such a terrific response that it led to two polls.

What is your favorite finance-themed movie?

This was our most popular poll of the year. Many take it for granted that the 1987 mega-hit “Wall Street” which featured Gorden Gekko — of “Greed is good” fame. Turns out, that is not the case. When we posted the results for this poll, a number of readers asked why we hadn’t included the documentary Inside Job. This led to our second poll on finance films.

What is your favorite documentary film about the 2008 financial crisis?

The Great Recession weighs heavily on many hearts and minds. We asked our readers, what is their favorite documentary film that explains the crisis. Interestingly, the distribution of results is dissimilar to results of our earlier poll on readers’ favorite finance movie of all time. In that poll, two movies had a neck-and-neck competition, but in this one we have a clear winner.

WHAT READERS THINK ABOUT A CAREER IN FINANCE

As professionals, our careers tend to be a high priority in our lives. Unsurprisingly, career-related questions were also very popular this year.

Why did you pursue a career in finance?

Many would assume that it is simply the lure of “more money” that draws people to a career in finance. Our respondents tell a different story. It turns out that for most respondents the answer has a lot more to do with interest and chance, and a lot less to do with money or prestige.

What factor plays the most important role in one’s career?

Various factors shape our careers, but which one is the most important? Is it performance on the job or education? Or is it something else? Our readers were quick to point out that education may have much to do with all the factors, even luck.

READERS’ REACTIONS TO FINANCIAL NEWS

As interesting developments were taking place in the market, we asked readers to weigh in on current events:

What is the primary factor bringing down the price of gold?

Gold prices have fallen by almost a third this year. Back in April, when gold suffered the biggest price fall in 30 years, we asked readers what they thought was the primary factor bringing down the price of gold.

How should Apple spend its excess cash?

At the beginning of the year, Greenlight Capital sued Apple, trying to force the company to return some of it’s massive cash reserves to shareholders in the form of dividends. We asked readers how Apple should spend it’s excess cash. Although, Greenlight dropped its lawsuit, Apple brought in Goldman Sachs to handle its excess cash and increased dividends.

How will financial markets react if the United States defaults on its debt?

This October, amidst heated political brinksmanship on Capitol Hill, the US Treasury Department warned of “a large, adverse, and persistent financial shock,” if the US government was unable to resolve the debt-ceiling crisis. Most of our readers were skeptical that markets would face any long-term consequences if the United States defaulted on its debt.

Why didn’t the Cyprus “bail-in” cause a bank run?

When Cyprus almost went bankrupt this March, the EU, IMF, and European Central Bank forced depositors in Cyprus banks to turn over about 40% of their assets to the banking system. Despite fears, the Cyprus “bail-in” didn’t cause a bank run in the eurozone, and we asked readers to weigh in on the surprising calm from depositors. Although the recession in Cyprus is shallower than expect, according a recent report from the IMF, the country’s efforts to extricate itself from debt may hamper growth for more than a decade.

If you’d like to participate in future polls, sign up to receive the CFA Institute Financial NewsBrief.


Please note that the content of this site should not be construed as investment advice, nor do the opinions expressed necessarily reflect the views of CFA Institute.

About the Author(s)
Usman Hayat, CFA

Usman Hayat writes about sustainable, responsible, and impact investing and Islamic finance. He is the lead author of "Environmental, Social, and Governance Issues in Investing: A Guide for Investment Professionals," and the literature review, "Islamic Finance: Ethics, Concepts, Practice." He is interested in online learning and has directed three e-courses for CFA Institute: "ESG-100," "Islamic Finance Quiz," and "Residual Income Equity Valuation." The other topics he writes about are macroeconomics and behavioral finance. Previously, he was a content director at CFA Institute. He is a former executive director at the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP). He has experience working in securities regulation and as an independent consultant. His qualifications include the CFA charter, the FRM designation, an MBA, and an MA in Development Economics. His personal interests are reading and hiking.

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