By Ed Brennen
One of the most anticipated features of the new Pulichino Tong Business Building is the Finance Lab and Trading Room, a high-tech space where Manning School of Business students will learn and work on Bloomberg terminals, surrounded by scrolling stock tickers and big-screen TVs reporting the latest industry news.
But students don’t have to wait for the new building to open next year to get their hands on Bloomberg terminals, the industry-standard computer system that more than 320,000 business professionals in 160 countries around the world use to access real-time market data, as well as powerful analytics, news and research tools.
With the opening of the Bloomberg Center this semester in Pasteur Hall Room 201, students and faculty from across the Manning School now have access to 12 brand-new Bloomberg terminals — along with training resources to help them get the most out of the system.
“I couldn’t be more excited for our students,” says Manning School interim dean Scott Latham, who thanked Rob Manning ’84 for providing the financial resources necessary to help the school subscribe to the Bloomberg Professional service, which in addition to the 12 twin-screen computer terminals includes free web licenses that allow faculty to access the system remotely on almost any device.
According to Prof. Yash Puri, Finance Department chair, the investment is worth every penny.
“This gives our students a competitive advantage in the marketplace,” says Puri, who also thanked Manning for his financial support. “Bloomberg terminals are used throughout the industry, and the idea was to build that into the curriculum. We want to get every student Bloomberg-certified so that when they go to an employer, they have the tools necessary to hit the ground running.”
Puri says installing the Bloomberg terminals now, more than a year ahead of the school’s move, allows faculty to develop their own expertise on the system and integrate its capabilities into the curriculum. It also gives current juniors and seniors a chance to become Bloomberg certified (a self-learning online process that takes about five hours) — which will stand out on their résumés.
‘A Huge Step Forward’
Junior Alex Martinez became proficient on Bloomberg terminals during financial analyst internships at Wainwright Investment Counsel and Biogen in Boston. He calls the new lab “a huge step forward for the university.”
“This puts us at a completely new level,” says Martinez, a triple major in finance, economics and applied mathematics and president of the Finance Society. “It will be exciting to have courses that are integrated with the Bloomberg labs so we can apply what we’re learning into software that everyone’s using around the world.”
Junior Naveen Kumar, also a triple major in finance, economics and applied mathematics, says having a Bloomberg terminal at his fingertips will enhance the quality of his education.
“It makes research and data very accessible,” says Kumar, who also works on Bloomberg terminals as an intern at Wainwright. “Without it, if I want interest rates or some other data source, I’m searching around Google and can’t find it, or I have to pay for it. With Bloomberg, in two seconds I have all this historical data that I can use for my research.”
While finance is the field most closely associated with Bloomberg terminals, Puri points out that the system enhances learning and research possibilities across every business program.
“Bloomberg can be used for corporate research, for decision-making when looking at the markets, for economics, for employment data, for acquisitions and mergers,” he says. “Marketing students can research where the demand is for new products. Operations management can use it for logistics training, which is a big piece of business management these days. It looks at things like traffic patterns and flight times, which lets you know how long things will take.”
Indeed, on the morning the twin-screen Bloomberg terminals went online in Pasteur, Martinez demonstrated how a user can track the route of an oil tanker off the coast of South America, overlaying a weather map to anticipate any potential delays. With the push of a button on the Bloomberg terminal’s custom keyboard, Martinez could see the ship’s speed, along with its age and accident history.
“The amount of data they’re pulling in is truly fascinating,” says Martinez, who sees the system as an indispensable tool for business decision-making. “Say for biotech, you can break down every single product that a company has, what stage they’re in, and then project forward to where that drug is going to go in terms of FDA approval. It doesn’t just give a quick summary. It actually pulls the patents and shows what the drug does at the molecular level.”
More Than Trading
As for the “trading room” aspect of the new lab, Puri says the Bloomberg terminals will be used for simulated trading, but not actual Wall Street trading.
“The idea of a trading room is you trade stocks or other financial assets, but the field of finance is bigger than that,” says Puri, who notes that the Manning School’s student-managed fund, which has grown from $25,000 to about $80,000 since it began competing against the other schools in the UMass system in 2007, will be able to benefit from the Bloomberg data.
And when the Finance Lab and Trading Room moves across University Avenue in the fall of 2017 to the new Pulichino Tong Building, Puri says it may grow to as many as 24 Bloomberg terminals — most in the main first-floor lab but several others in a smaller room for students seeking quieter research space.
“We are now even more competitive with all the major finance programs in the region,” says Puri, who adds that the school will begin providing Bloomberg terminal training sessions this semester. “This lets us provide hands-on, practical, real-application training.”
Or, as Martinez puts it, it allows students to take a concept from their textbook and apply it in real time in the market.
“We might have an idea that we learned in the classroom, but how do we test that theory?” Martinez says. “Bloomberg gives us a platform where we can plug that information in and build models and see what happens with actual financial data. That’s a very big learning experience.”