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Wednesday, August 13, 2014 - Real World Metrics: New data analytics lab features Bloomberg financial terminals

Oakland University’s business school has been steadily introducing data analytics into the business curriculum. A significant step is being taken this fall with the opening of the business school’s newest computer lab, a data analytics lab featuring Bloomberg financial terminals.

 

The lab offers the business school community access to a powerful tool that financial and business professionals across disciplines rely upon for instant access to databases, financial news, company reports, economic statistics, industry research, information from foreign exchange markets and more.

 

Through course assignments and open lab hours, Oakland business students can use the Bloomberg terminals to develop better analytical skills, make decisions based on real-world data, challenge their own methods of analysis and test their skills with the Bloomberg Essentials Online Training Program (BESS).

 

Career advantage

 

Some employers require Bloomberg skills as a prerequisite; others regard it as a distinct advantage, notes Ron Tracy, associate professor of economics.

 

“Proficiency using Bloomberg is a key attribute we look for when hiring analysts. It is an essential tool for any student interested in a career in investment management or corporate treasury,” says Rob Manilla, FIN ’85, vice president and chief investment officer, Kresge Foundation. “The data available, whether real time or historical, is the basis for formulating ideas, tactics and strategies.  It links to Excel and makes manipulating information a powerful tool to help visualize data and clarify your message.”

 

Manilla and his team use Bloomberg to help manage the Foundation’s $3.5 billion investment portfolio, which supports nonprofit organizations in arts and culture, community development, the environment, health and human services.

 

“We model the risks and exposures of our portfolio, price and trade derivatives, back test investment ideas, compare managers and communicate with Wall Street. It provides us real-time information we can use to adjust our portfolio based on the opportunities available in the market,” he says.

 

Professor of Finance J. Austin Murphy is encouraged about the real-world application after he and his students had the opportunity to try the terminals during a trial period last winter.

 

“For example, students can readily see mutual fund alphas or abnormal risk-adjusted return for the purpose of enabling them to make recommendations or optimal investments,” he says. “Students can also access information on quantitative model valuations of stocks and bonds that would be very difficult to replicate.”

 

“(The Bloomberg) terminals are absolutely wonderful. To have access to and learn how to use the terminals as a student will give Oakland business students a significant advantage in the job market,” adds William Gross, finance major, who used the terminals during the trial period.

 

Enhanced teaching and research

 

Bringing Bloomberg to the Oakland University business school will not only help students, it will also aid in academic research, says Assistant Professor of Accounting Sha Zhao.

 

“I have a working paper using financial and stock price data from Bloomberg,” says Zhao. “Not like some other data providers, Bloomberg updates data all the time. I believe my research work will benefit a lot from the usage of the database.”

 

Tracy can also see how students and faculty can leverage this tool. “To teach high-level statistics, or econometrics, I am in need of data sets. Bloomberg will give a huge amount of analysis over time and cross-section analysis,” he says.

 

For students and research faculty, the addition of this amazing tool gives them a huge advantage in today’s competitive business environment.

 

By Alice Rhein