Bloomberg financial terminals hummed, stock prices raced across an electronic ticker, and CNBC blared in the background.
The trading floor had all the trappings of those at Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase&Co. or Morgan Stanley. But this one was some 30 miles away from Wall Street on the campus of Adelphi University, in Garden City, N.Y.
In the trading room, named after James Riley Jr., a retired Goldman Sachs partner, Adelphi’s business school students apply textbook teachings in a more practical setting. They analyze the latest stock quotes, compare currency exchange rates and scour company fundamentals, just as any Wall Street financier might. One class even makes buy and sell decisions for a $200,000 investment portfolio.
Adelphi is one of the latest universities to bring the trading floor to the classroom, relying on guidance and financing from wealthy bankers and their Wall Street firms. Only three business schools had such operations in 1997, according to Rise Display, which installs tickers, video screens and trading software for universities and financial institutions. Now, more than 200 institutions around the country — from Ivy League universities to small liberal art colleges — have them. Six new centers were to open over the holiday season.
The trading floors serve a dual purpose: to give students real-world experience and the universities something to brag about to potential donors and prospective faculty.
Bentley University’s trading operation, among the first of its kind in 1997, was originally tucked away in a small classroom. Now, the university has a 3,000-square-foot trading floor equipped with 57 computer workstations, five Bloomberg terminals and four ticker screens displaying real-time market data.
At the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at Michigan University, roughly 1,000 students come through the glass-encased trading room each week. Baruch’s Bert W. and Sandra Wasserman Trading Floor — named after a former chief financial officer of Time Warner and his wife — features 50 Reuters and Bloomberg-equipped computer stations. Some two dozen Wall Street traders temporarily took over the space after they were displaced by the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
An educational trading floor with all the bells and whistles carries a high price tag. A small trading operation with just a few computers and flat-screen TVs runs about $100,000.
Baruch’s center and the Wellde Capital Markets Room at George Washington University in Washington cost about $1 million each. Bentley’s renovated center cost $5 million.
Big trading firms and their top executives often foot the bill.
The practical skills can be an advantage in the job hunt.
Robert Berns logged more than a hundred hours on the trading floor in his senior year at George Washington — an experience he promoted in his interviews at Wells Fargo Securities. He joined Wells as an investment banker in Charlotte, N.C., shortly after graduating last May.
“There’s a wow factor to it,” Berns said. “It gave someone like me instant credibility.”