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The Financial Services Laboratory celebrates five years

Finding financial data on a handful of small Turkish banks could have been a problem for Martindale Scholar Brian Cunningham ’10 when he was conducting research for an article that will be published in an upcoming issue of Perspectives on Business and Economics.

But Cunningham, a finance and statistics double major, says his ambitious assignment was supported by the breadth of resources available to students at Lehigh’s Financial Services Laboratory (FSL).

“Finding information on foreign firms—especially smaller banks in Turkey—is difficult on Yahoo! Finance,” says Cunningham, who visited Turkey last spring with a dozen other Lehigh students through the Martindale Student Associates Program.

“Google Finance doesn’t provide you with the information either. So it was really beneficial to come up here [to the lab] and pull information on 47 different Turkish firms.”

That refrain is heard often by Anne Anderson, a Joseph R. Perella and Amy M. Perella Chair who became director of the FSL last spring.

“Most of our business students have used the laboratory throughout their career here at Lehigh. That’s highly unusual,” says Anderson. “This lab is their competitive advantage. The financial knowledge they’ll gain over the course of their time at Lehigh is an incredibly important asset in this job market.”

John Ellis ’10 agrees. A member of Lehigh’s Investment Management Group, Ellis says students are in a strong position to manage an investment portfolio worth over $500,000.

“We’re doing a combination of investments, and trying to discuss a lot of the topics that were brought up during our classes,” says Ellis, who credits the club’s ability to easily access and organize information to the FSL. “We’re able to analyze core market moves and really understand where our assumptions are strong and weak.”

The FSL, says Anderson, is one of the most advanced simulated trading rooms in the Mid-Atlantic region, boasting more than 10 of the most widely used data feeds and software applications employed by the global financial services industry today. She spoke highly of that technology portfolio this week during events honoring the FSL’s five-year anniversary.

Strong ties to the global financial community

“Perhaps no program at Lehigh better illustrates the strength of our relationship with the global financial community,” she says. “And we wouldn’t be able to offer our faculty and students the robust infrastructure currently available without the ongoing dedication and support of our alumni community.”

To drive home that point, Anderson announced a two-year gift from College of Business and Economics board member Donald Gruhn ’49, an enthusiastic supporter of Lehigh’s finance program who offered to fund 12 Bloomberg terminals for the next two years.

The gift allows Lehigh students to access real-time information from Bloomberg, a world leader in financial news and data. Students can already earn Bloomberg certification in four market sectors, including equities, fixed income, FX, and commodities.

“Our alumni continue to provide insight into a new era of global business and the role technology has played in making us interconnected,” says Anderson. “This facility is at the core of Lehigh’s business curriculum, and it’s only because of the ongoing dedication and support of alumni like Don Gruhn that we’re able to provide such a well-rounded experience to our students.”

Lehigh is also one of the first business schools to collaborate with Thomson Reuters, another worldwide leader in financial news, to develop and implement its T1.com certification program.

“We decided to work with Lehigh because its business school understands the unique intersection of the financial services industry and technology, says Tom Wojciechowski, senior vice president and global business director of Thomson Reuters’ Markets Division.

“Both the industry and the students benefit from them being able to walk into their first job understanding and managing data without much downtime,” he says.

In the future, Anderson plans to spearhead efforts to secure IW Financial certification and a CFA Preparatory training program, ensuring that Lehigh graduates are comfortable using a variety of financial tools before they enter the workplace.


 

Story by Tom Yencho

Posted on Friday, November 13, 2009

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