As I write this, HBO’s acclaimed series Game of Thrones has just concluded. The finale, while controversial, was one for the ages to say the least. Whether you loved it or have signed the petition asking the network to reshoot the last season, you may find solace in the fact that season eight offered its viewers some incredible lessons in corporate finance. Here are five lessons from GoT’s final season (major spoilers below):
- Management should always assess its risks
The Night King decimated the massive army at Winterfell and victory was all but assured. Instead of savoring his inevitable victory, he chose to make an example of a teenage girl armed with a knife. This is hubris akin to that of a successful CEO who decides to drop unsubstantiated product claims on Twitter. The conclusion: limited upside and huge downside. It may be too late for the Night King but it’s not too late for Elon Musk.
- Assess the NPV of your actions
Daenerys presumably spent a small fortune on her attack of King’s Landing. What she failed to consider was that had she assumed the Iron Throne, she would be the one financing the reconstruction of King’s Landing. In fact, her credibility with the Iron Bank would have been reduced causing her cost of capital would spike. Let’s not even get started on the possibility of a credit rating downgrade.
- Investment in data can produce strong returns
Sam’s ability to parse large amounts of data allows him to arrive at the valuable conclusion that Jon Snow is the rightful heir to the Iron Throne. Perhaps Sam should consider seed funding from the Iron Bank to fund his data analytics start up.
- Independence can be financially risky
Sansa turned down an invitation for Winterfell to join a consortium of six other kingdoms under the one ruler. Is this Brexit 2.0? What happens to trade agreements? Currency? Geopolitical threats? Sansa may have her own vision for effective governance but all it takes is one bad winter to devastate her economy. Good thing she has friends and family in high places.
- Good analytics and predictive abilities are the secret to success
As the series concludes, Bran Stark is granted rule over six kingdoms. It should come as no surprise given his abilities to analyze the past and predict the future. Strong analytics and predictive capabilities are paramount to financial success. Had he not made it this far, Bran could have had a fruitful career as a financial analyst with the Iron Bank. In any case, it’s nice to see a talented kid leapfrog into the C-suite.
There you have it. A finance MBA thanks to GoT. If only the series could continue with Drogon the Dragon staging hostile takeovers.
Reuben Advani is the author of The Wall Street MBA 3rd Edition (McGraw-Hill).