Students make gains through in-class experience using financial data technology

September 7, 2018

A College of Business partnership provides 12 Bloomberg Terminals in newly named lab.

The Bloomberg Finance Lab has 12 Bloomberg Terminals for students to get hands on experience with the financial industry's equipment.
The Bloomberg Finance Lab has 12 Bloomberg Terminals for students to get hands on experience with the financial industry's equipment.
Students will gain financial knowledge through experiential learning in the new Bloomberg Financial Lab.

The latest stock market results scrolled across the top of the room. And, in the College of Business finance lab, students researched the reasons behind those numbers through a newly formed partnership with Bloomberg Finance L.P.

The College of Business recently acquired Bloomberg Terminals for student education; courses began incorporating the dozen specialized software machines and keyboards — located in the new Bloomberg Finance Lab, formerly the Business Engagement Learning Laboratory — into lessons this summer.

“Initiatives that deliver experiential learning opportunities with real-world applications is a College of Business focus,” said COB Dean Raju Balakrishnan. “Bloomberg Professional Service brings the real world of business and finance into our classes, providing students with access to the same information platform used by leading decision makers.”

Bloomberg Professional Service supported the dean’s initiative by reducing costs so the college could obtain more terminals to help meet student demand.

Finance Lecturer Nick Vlisides, who worked on the machines during his nearly 30 years in corporate finance and treasury, explored the vast research, information and functions offered through these financial machines with his FIN 484: Investment Fund Management class. He shared that students could also pursue a Bloomberg Market Concepts “Certification,” an e-learning experience that provides a Bloomberg credential and also allows students to post their resumes on the global Bloomberg network upon completion.

He said the Bloomberg Terminal software system permits real-time access to markets granting students the ability to monitor and analyze financial data. The complex analysis capabilities offered through Bloomberg allows students to quickly access economic, supply-chain, industry and company data, including multiyear performance and competitive information.

“With the use of Bloomberg, data and information can be gathered quickly, almost instantaneously, so students can concentrate on more critical aspects of valuation and analysis,” Vlisides said, showing his class, for example, function keys that bring up recent news articles pertaining to an individually selected stock.

Teaching the summer course, Vlisides chose Ford Motor Company and showed how recent news for the local vehicle manufacturer caused the stock price to drop.

“Ford didn't hit the Wall Street estimates, it plans to restructure in China, and there is news that the new ongoing focus — no pun intended — will be on SUVs and trucks, which may be a risky move. Investors are a bit nervous and that is reflected in the numbers we see today,” Vlisides said in the early August class session, showing his students where they could access that information in the Bloomberg Terminal. “But, doing additional research on Ford’s numbers with the software, you see that Ford continues to have high proportional sales productivity and they manage their money well." The class voted to hang on to its Ford position in its student-managed fund portfolio.

To gain their own experience, students investigated and presented updates on stocks they followed throughout the semester. Vlisides said it was important for students to not only learn, but to “do” finance.

“Lessons are important, but employers are going to want proficiency. And you gain that through experience, which is what we are offering here.”

Some students in the class, like senior Bazz Jewell, are looking for a way to stand out from others in the soon-to-enter job market. Others, like seniors Denise Stabley and Ali Beydoun, are banking professionals seeking advancement in their field.

All said they gained both aptitude and confidence in using the terminals by the end of the course. And every one of Vlisides’ students is now Bloomberg Certified.

“Not only did we get hours of individualized time with a great professor who knows his stuff from working in the industry, we also gained hands-on experience with these terminals and a professional certification to show it,” Beydoun said. “I know this will help me take my career to the next level.”

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