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New Financial Trading Room features expensive Bloomberg software

February 11, 2015

The former dean of the College of Business and Economics (CBE) Glenn Potts retired last spring after 38 years of employment at UW-River Falls, and half a year later he has a financial trading room named in his honor in South Hall.

The Glenn Potts Financial Trading Room was created and implemented on the second floor of South Hall last November. Now, students and faculty have the ability to use the Financial Trading Room for educational or recreational purposes.

Inside the trading room are two large monitors that have access to Bloomberg trading data on a 15-minute delay, and accounting and finance Chair Charles Corcoran called the data a “treasure trove” because of the incalculable number of things you can do with the data.

“Whether you’re talking stocks, bonds—my area of interest right now is real estate—it has just tons of data that we’re looking at utilizing,” Corcoran said. “The neat thing is it’s easy to use; the challenging part is the data is endless.”

Bloomberg is a financial software, data and media company based in New York City, New York, and the Bloomberg feed costs approximately $25,000 per year. The trading room itself and the Bloomberg feed was paid for by a $50,000 donation from 1988 UWRF business and administration graduate Jim Musel. The donation will be used over a couple of years to finance the ongoing cost of the Financial Trading Room.

The Financial Trading Room is used for an investments course and a portfolio management course, both taught by Professor Reza Rahgozar, where students learn how to manage money by managing fictitious portfolios.

CBE also created a one-credit independent study course called “Bloomberg Certification,” where a student can become Bloomberg certified after using the Financial Trading Room to access a number of interactive videos, and eventually pass a number of exams. The course takes approximately seven hours and is pass or fail. The first and only student to pass the Bloomberg Certification course is UWRF student Chris Regnier, who earned his one credit two weeks ago.

“The Bloomberg software is very informative and complicated,” Regnier said. “The information provided through the Bloomberg software gives us a huge advantage over the average investor. Being able to put Bloomberg certified on my resume will make me more valuable to potential employers.”

The Financial Trading Room will also be home to the UWRF student investment team, where students will be given real money to invest on behalf of the UWRF Foundation.

“What we’re going to have is as much as a $50,000 of not play money but real money from the Foundation to invest,” Corcoran said. “The challenge for us is going from play money in their investments class, to actual real money that’s given by alumni and others.”

The $50,000 from the Foundation is not set in stone quite yet, but Corcoran expects possibly to get the funding approved at the next Foundation board meeting in April.

“We would actually do security trades through the security firm used by the Foundation,” Corcoran said. “It’s very exciting, but it’s also kind of scary.”

Corcoran currently has a group of students who are doing research on regional “green” sustainable companies that may be worth investing in for the Foundation.

According to Corcoran, a number of CBE faculty members have expressed interest in using the Financial Trading Room for research purposes as well as classroom applications. But financing the trading room, because of the $25,000 Bloomberg feed, is one of the most important aspects in relation to the sustainability and growth of the room.

“The ongoing issue is financial support in the end, after a couple years here, but my own sense is once we get our financial traction with it I think it will work just fine,” Corcoran said.

Outside the Financial Trading Room is a “ticker tape,” where students roaming the hall can see live stock prices roll across a skinny but lengthy screen. The trading room now also has a window, so students don’t become overly claustrophobic while using the room because of its small space.

“We’ve created a Bloomberg lab that’s basically a very fancy broom closet, as it were, sorry to say that, but its more than that now,” Corcoran said. “We’re moving along and getting some technical features that you typically find in more developed finance programs, and our lab is our baby steps, just one terminal in a rather small room, but that can evolve over time.”