Finance lab on cutting edge of technology

Alex Paranicas

Bartley Hall, Villanova’s most cutting-edge facility, has once again updated its technological features with the recent opening of the Applied Finance Lab. Located on the ground floor of the Bartley Hall, this education center features some 16 workstations and three plasma televisions which stream data from Reuters, Bloomberg and cable broadcasts including CNBC and CNN.

The construction of this room cost approximately $450,000 and was funded by the University budget at the requests of undergraduate students and alumni. The upkeep of the room will cost at least $45,000 per year, mostly due to fees for the Reuters and Bloomberg feeds.

“We are trying to raise an endowment [fund] to independently raise money for the room’s annual costs, which will hopefully alleviate the costly upkeep and operate freely from the University budget,” says Dr. David Nawrocki, Director of the Applied Finance Lab.

With the opening of this technological lab, Villanova joins the small list of universities nationwide with such facilities. Other institutions with trading rooms include Bentley College, Lehigh University, St. Joseph’s University, Rutgers University-Newark and Baylor University.

Dr. Nawrocki said that Villanova will use the room “not only as a showpiece [as other institutions do], but also as a learning tool which will enhance the curriculum.”

The Villanova Student-Managed Fund, a student mutual fund comprised of 18 undergraduate and five MBA students, has been dormant since the reconstruction of Bartley Hall five years ago. The group had been without sufficient tools for market research, but with the opening of the Applied Finance Lab, their resources have been restored and they can resume activity.

Economics, Management Information Systems, Finance and Management classes will utilize the interactive tools afforded by the facility. “[The Finance Lab] is more than a trading room. Its offerings include electronic stacks which can provide companies’ financial data back to the 1950s,” said Dr. Nawrocki. Before the lab becomes integrated into the business curriculum, faculty will undergo training sessions which will cover the Reuters and Bloomberg programs as well as the market simulation feeds. “Eventually, we will offer training for students who want to fully utilize the facilities,” remarks Nawrocki.

Numerous changes will occur in the School of Commerce and Finance as a result of this new facility. The CEO Program, an initiative for freshmen which requires their attendance at business-related events, will be revised to include a session in the Finance Lab. Additionally, the Business School’s degree offerings will change due to the new facilities – a Master of Science in Finance as well as a joint major in Economics and Finance are planned.

The hours of the Applied Finance Lab are Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m; Friday, 9 a.m. through 4 p.m. and Sunday, 4 p.m. through 9 p.m. With real-time data streaming from screens and tickers, the trading terminals await student and faculty use.