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Construction of the N. Murray Edwards Trading and Finance Lab is almost complete. The launch of the lab will take place on November 30.
Aly Gulamhusein/the Gauntlet

Haskayne joins the ranks

Construction of a trading lab will give business students an edge

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After nearly 10 years in development, the Haskayne School of Business will be joining other top-calibre business schools in the country with its construction of a new Finance and Trading Lab.

Calgary billionaire N. Murray Edwards donated $500,000 to the construction of the lab, giving Haskayne the facilities needed to provide its finance students with practical hands-on learning experience.

The Haskayne School of Business has been working to build the facility for the past decade, but due to construction costs the project was delayed.

It wasn't until Edwards's donation that the construction of the lab began.

Edwards donated only a partial sum of the total costs, and challenged the school to go back into the business community and fundraise for the remaining sum.

"We got to talk to the community about what the floor was going to do and got some donations because of that, and therefore I think it was useful for Mr. Edwards to push us back and do that," said Finance professor Gordon Sick, one of the faculty members involved in getting the project moving.

"Murray Edwards also provided funds for the market information centre which is on the second floor of Haskayne," said Sick. "He'd been watching how we've been utilizing that and therefore he was more than willing to donate when we came back to him and talked to him about the lab we were planning on developing."

The lofty expenses of building a trading lab come from the high price tags associated with the terminals. The terminals will allow students to learn how to assess trades using trading information systems such as Thomson Reuters and Bloomberg.

In addition to the costly initial purchase price, an annual license fee is required in order to receive access to current market data.

In order to afford the initial purchase and maintain the terminals down the road, Haskayne sought sponsors for each of the terminal.

When the lab officially opens this year it will have between 10 and 12 terminals. However, Haskayne is still seeking more sponsors for terminals. The lab has room for up to 18 terminals as need grows.

Finance students will receive hands-on experience using trading floor software and simulations of real life events that they may not be able to access without the lab.

"Not every student may have the money to have their own trading account or be able to have access to trade the instruments that institutions may trade but through a lab like this students will be able to get exposure to those types of things. It also brings the University of Calgary up to speed with schools in the east coast which already have facilities like these," said fourth-year commerce student Oliver Davidson.

The U of C business school is one of the top three business schools in Canada, along with Toronto and Montreal.

These terminals not only stand to benefit the students but also employers. They will reduce the overall cost of training new employees on how to use terminals.

"When we approached some of the firms to ask them for donations for the lab, we said we are not looking for donations really, we are asking you to give us some money to help reduce your cost of training because now you are going to end up with more qualified people. You don't have to give them a full day of training, they are ready to go," said Sick.

Students with prior experience with the terminals will have a competitive advantage in the marketplace compared to others.

The Haskayne School of Business also boasts the Calgary Portfolio Management Group. The program is for third and fourth-year finance students to gain experience managing a portfolio that is worth around $380,000.

In the past, the group managed the portfolio with the use of a single Bloomberg terminal that is available in the business library.

With the new trading lab, managing the portfolio will be a whole lot easier for the club.

"It took a long time for Haskayne to get a trading floor and a lot of students have been disadvantaged by the fact that Haskayne didn't have a trading floor," said Students' Union Haskayne School of business representative Chris Palmer. "And it will now make us a whole lot more competitive in the marketplace when compared to other high-calibre business schools."

The launch of the new Finance and Trading Lab will be on November 30.

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Comments

The time to have built this was 10 years ago, before most trading was conducted by quants. This is like teaching archie and gopher in CPSC 215.

For being situated in Canada\'s second financial and corporate capital, the University of Calgary\'s MBA program doesn\'t rank very well:

http://www.economist.com/node/21531988