My Life In Culture: Robin Wigglesworth | SLMan

My Life In Culture: Robin Wigglesworth

The Financial Times has posted Robin Wigglesworth to the US, the Gulf and now Norway. As global finance correspondent, he has just finished his first book, Trillions – a fascinating story of how index funds overcame deep institutional opposition to change financial markets forever. He filled Tobias Gourlay in on the books, films and podcasts that keep him informed...


Against The Gods By Peter Bernstein

This is the one I always recommend. Bernstein is the granddaddy of really good financial stories and an inspiration for my book. This is his history of risk, which sounds fantastically dull, but is actually riveting. It’s a stone-cold classic of financial history that tells how humans first created the mathematics of probability and harnessed that to invent entire industries like banking, insurance and investment.

Available here

A Random Walk Down Wall Street By Burton Malkiel

I always give this to young financial journalists or anyone looking to understand finance better. It first came out in 1973 and has been updated about 20 times – and every time it’s a bestseller because it’s so incredibly current. It’s also incredibly well written.

Available here

Manias, Panics & Crashes By Charles Kindleberger

This is as entertaining as you’d hope from that title. It’s a history of financial debacles from the South Sea Bubble to present-day disasters. Financial crises are pressing, scary, destructive things, but they are also fascinating.

Available here

The Big Short by Michael Lewis

I could have chosen anything by Michael Lewis. He writes like a novelist, not a journalist. Complicated stuff is covered in an engaging way – with no need for tonnes of footnotes.

Available here

The Last Tycoons by William Cohan

William Cohan is a former investment banker who wrote this gripping book on the history of an investment bank called Lazard Frères. This was his debut; he’s now a prolific financial journalist and I try to read everything he ever writes.

Available here

Den of Thieves by James Stewart

This is another classic of financial history. I’m embarrassed to say I haven’t actually read it – but it’s been on my book shelf for a long time. It’s about the junk bond boom of the 1980s and, specifically, the rise and fall of a guy called Michael Milken.

Available here

The Man Who Sold The Market by Greg Zuckerman

Greg is a frenemy from the Wall Street Journal. His book is a fascinating biography of Jim Simons – the most successful hedge fund manager in the history of the world and a pioneer of quantitative investing. Simons is a multibillionaire and his fund still cleans the clocks of every other manager.

Available here

The Wolf Of Wall Street
The Big Short
Margin Call


Trading Places

That’s right. Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd at the peak of their powers. It’s actually better than Wall Street and the trading scenes – when they’re dealing orange juice futures – are really well and accurately done. The whole thing is still very enjoyable.

Margin Call

This is a phenomenally underrated film in general, though it has become a bit of a classic within the finance industry. The bank is based on Lehman Brothers and some of the characters are based on real people – I certainly recognise a lot of people I know in finance. It does a great job of explaining the 2008 financial crisis without going into financial jargon and might be my favourite finance-related film of all time.

Wolf of Wall Street

I have heard worrying stories of people watching this and wanting to go into finance as a result. These people should probably reappraise their life choices. Nevertheless, the film itself is great fun. It doesn’t explain much about economics, but finance can be pretty seedy and it captures that. Today, the kind of boiler room it depicts would probably be dealing in cryptocurrencies.


Odd Lots

Of course, the FT has many podcasts which are obviously all excellent. But this interview series is by Bloomberg. Hosts Tracy Alloway and Joe Wiesenthal are great journalists who take guests in interesting directions – not always the obvious ones either.

Listen here

The New Bazaar

This new podcast is by Cardiff Garcia and Aimee Keane and it’s been fascinating so far. They’re former colleagues of mine – I knew whatever they did was going to be great – and they go deep with some really good guests, but in a really accessible way.

Listen here


Bradley Hope – Wall Street Journal

He’s an investigative journalist and friend of mine. If he wasn’t a friend, I’d be incredibly envious of his body of work.

John Authers – Bloomberg

Bloomberg now has a disgusting number of good journalists, including my former colleague John.

Robin’s own book is Trillions: How a Band of Wall Street Renegades Invented the Index Fund and Changed Finance Forever. It’s published by Penguin on 12th October. Pre-order it here.

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