What surprised the creators of Showtime's 'Billions' the most about the world of hedge funds

Showtime

  • “Billions” is back for its third season on Showtime and delves even deeper into the cat-and-mouse game between hedge fund titan Bobby Axelrod and US Attorney Chuck Rhoades.
  • The show is a favourite on Wall Street because of how well it depicts the finance world and hedge funds specifically.
  • Co-creator Brian Koppelman told Business Insider that the thing that most surprised him in his research was the “exact level of rigour” that people who work at hedge funds need to employ.

Showtime’s “Billions” – currently airing its third season Sundays at 10 p.m. on Stan in Australia – has become a favourite on Wall Street because of its attention to detail and charming (and morally compromised) characters.

Creators Brian Koppelman and David Levien have tackled insular communities since writing the hit movie “Rounders” about high-stakes poker in 1998. And to nail the hedge fund world depicted in “Billions,” the pair started researching eight or nine years before the show went on the air, they told Business Insider in a recent interview.

Because of where Koppelman and Levien lived – Manhattan and Greenwich, Connecticut – the pair knew many people in the finance world not just from headlines, but socially as well. Levien said that was what first motivated them to start digging in.

But as they were doing research, they learned quite a bit more about how the world of finance, and hedge funds in particular, operates.

Koppelman said what surprised him the most about hedge funds was the “exact level of rigour that these people have to apply to solving these problems.”

“If you’re an analyst at a powerful hedge fund, it’s not just the hours you work,” he continued. “You are forced to work at a level of intelligence and rigour that is so high,” he said, and the pressure is constant.

Koppelman said before they started working on “Billions,” he was aware of how much a hedge fund manager had to perform at that high level, but not the extent to which even a lower-level analyst also had to synthesise information intelligently in such a high-stress environment.


Read Business Insider’s full interview with Koppelman and Levien.

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