Learning to Use the Same System that the Pros Use

I mentioned in an earlier post that Fuqua’s Ford Library has several Bloomberg terminals where students can access financial data. Since Bloomberg terminals are used by hundreds of thousands of traders and financial managers around the world, I thought it might be a good idea to find out how to use them. What a stroke of luck that Fuqua just happened to offer Bloomberg training this past week! There had been a previous training session which I had regrettably missed out on, so I jumped on the opportunity to sign up for this one.

To someone who has never seen a Bloomberg system before, it may look strange and archaic, especially the colorful keyboard and MS-DOS looking display screens. These terminals, though, are the link between thousands of people and the real-time financial world.

If you are not familiar with Bloomberg or trading systems, here is a brief rundown. Bloomberg is a financial data research organization based in New York City that reports on various aspects of companies, stocks, industries, and markets. These statistics and information are updated continuously throughout the day, and are easily accessed using special computers built by Bloomberg. These computers, referred to as terminals, consist of two screens and a color coded keyboard that is designed to optimize navigation of the Bloomberg data system. Bloomberg terminals are largely important in doing company research, and may also be used to trade stocks, bonds, commodities, or check other global markets. Now, back to the training.

Two Bloomberg trainers instructed a class full of students on specific commands and keywords used to navigate the data. There is more to these systems than just trading prices and market data, however. There is supply chain data, which allows users to see which firms are primary suppliers to a company, as well as how much revenue a firm generates for the company that it supplies. Bond trend lines and treasury data are also available for analysis, which is incredible for anyone analyzing the fixed income and bond markets. There is even a product segmentation function, which breaks up a company’s equity based on the individual products that it sells.

There are many aspects of the Bloomberg system that we did not get to learn about, given that we only had an hour, but I feel comfortable enough to get started. Hopefully I can try my hand at managing a portfolio, and maybe even figure out the stock market someday. Overall, it was really nice to learn about these systems without even leaving school. It seems that there are always opportunities to learn at Fuqua, you really just have to show up.