Experiential Learning Gives Students a Competitive Edge
The Henry W. Bloch Executive Hall for Entrepreneurship and Innovation is living up to its promise of “transforming talent” using experiential learning spaces throughout the school. The Finance Lab in the new Henry W. Bloch Executive Hall for Entrepreneurship and Innovation is no exception. Complete with 32-dual monitor workspaces, stock ticker and professional financial software, this distinctive space gives finance students a hands-on learning experience.
While the area resembles a computer lab, the Finance Lab’s true competitive advantage lies in its technology and software. These platforms open up opportunities for finance students that weren’t available in the past, and help position the Bloch School a leader in finance education. The software available in the finance lab includes:
- Morningstar Direct, which houses firm data including accounting and stock return information, analyst opinions and research. Mutual, private equity, hedge and endowment fund data is also accessible.
- Financial Trading System, a platform that allows experimental simulations to be run for educational or research purposes.
- Telemet Orion, which provides real time stock and bond return data.
- SDC Platinum, a database of the best mergers and acquisitions data available.
- Compustat Global, which stores global accounting statistics for publicly traded firms in more than 50 countries.
- WDRS, a database that allows access to the best U.S. stock return data, as well as the best U.S. and global accounting data for publicly traded firms.
- Eventus, a program allowing for event study analysis.
- KLD Social Ratings, a software that provides corporate governance and social impact data for publicly traded U.S. firms.
Nathan Mauck, Ph.D., assistant professor of finance at the Bloch School, is making the most out of this technology in his teaching. “The finance lab mimics trading room conditions on Wall Street using state-of-the-art technology to give students an experiential opportunity not available in any other space on campus,” Mauck said.
“The techniques students learn are advanced, practical, and require true experiential learning to master,” Mauck noted. “Using these programs requires training, so familiarity with the software gives students a distinctive edge entering the job market.”
Graduate finance student Becky Kies (MSF ’15) is in Mauck’s Valuation, Mergers and Acquisitions course this semester. She also works full time as a data analyst with Lockton, and says the access to this level of technology streamlines the efficiency of her class time.
“I’ve been able to get a lot done during class by just following along, and it’s cut down on my workload outside of class,” Kies explained. “I’m able to pull the data I need for projects while I’m actually in the lab.”
“It’s not just a ‘lecture and take notes’ atmosphere,” Kies added. “We can follow along when Dr. Mauck is demonstrating how to pull data, how to do calculations…and make sure we’re doing it right and getting the same answer he is.”
The Finance Lab has created new possibilities for Bloch finance students. In Mauck’s Valuation, Mergers and Acquisitions class, students are assigned to complete an entire valuation process with a publicly traded company over the course of the semester.
A major component of this project requires students to access current and historical data on not only their assigned firm, but the industry as a whole.
“The technology we’re using allows students to have access to real time trading information (stock prices, option prices, economic indicators, etc.), algorithmic trading capabilities, firm research, mergers and acquisitions history, accounting data (U.S. and global), to name a few,” Mauck said.
In addition to the above, Mauck noted, he is able to also run real-time simulations in class in which students trade with each other or against the market.
The lab also delivers an important team-learning environment. Mauck cites his Financial Modeling class as an example.
“Previously, I would lecture on modeling techniques, then have students go home and pull data via simplistic free resources outside of class,” Mauck said. “Now, they are able to work together during class, completing projects using the same technology and data as they might in an actual workplace.”
Mauck is also incorporating his students and the Finance Lab technology into his research.
This semester, Mauck is partnering with Bloch School Assistant Professor of Accounting Leigh Salzsieder, Ph.D., to conduct a cross-disciplinary project on live market simulations in the Finance Lab using the Financial Trading System program.
Accounting and finance students will work together through experimental market conditions to test hypotheses developed by Mauck and Salzsieder. This experiment would result in publishable research made possible by the work of Bloch students.