The Financial Laboratory is a specialist dealing room innovatively designed and equipped for educational and academic research activities. It is located at the Centre for International Education in Kielnarowa at the University of Information Technology and Management (UITM) Rzeszow. The Centre was financed by the European Fund for Regional Development within the Development of Eastern Poland Programme. The full name of the lab is Laboratorium of economic innovation in information technology facilities.
The Financial Laboratory project is patterned on the best such centers worldwide which have created professional transaction rooms at universities to provide both financial education under exceptional conditions, and the ability to carry out the most advanced academic research (examples of these labs can be found under the heading Laboratories throughout the world. They are characterized by furnishing the room with typical stock broker equipment and designing it in a way that accurately reflects the real dealers workplace. It has a great significance from the point of view of the quality of the teaching process which takes place in this room. Class participants not only get to use equipment which is the same as that used in real trading rooms, but they also get to experience the atmosphere of such a place. This type of intangible factor is inspirational and an inestimable encouragement to study of often complicated financial riddles.
In the Financial Laboratory there are 24 workstations. Each is equipped with a special terminal with the Brokerage House TMS Brokers SA (Go4X and TMS Direct) transaction platforms installed. Each station also has a dual LCD monitor which is standard in dealing rooms. The workstations are not arranged in a standard way. They form a star which facilitates a highly effective exchange of information within the group, and easy access to data emitted with the help of specialist display equipment installed in the room. This equipment is made up of – in addition to the standard projector screen connected to the trainers workstation – a data wall (video wall), a large screen television and an interactive board (smart board).
The data wall is a professional display device which acts a connector between a certain number of screens (in the case of the UITM lab there are six), upon which each may display different content (for example notations from various markets: capital, currency, commodities, etc.) Access to digital business television further provides presentation of economic news which could be a great illustration of the issue discussed by the teacher. Simultaneous access to data from financial markets and business news makes it possible to track the reaction of markets to key events in the news. The smart board is an example of an innovative tool supporting the teaching process by making it possible for the teacher to effectively manage content (for example financial data) before the eyes of stVudents. It is worth noting that the supplier of the UITM lab equipment was Dysten Sp. z o.o., which equipped the Warsaw Stock Exchange and the TVN television station among others.
Content displayed on the devices installed in the lab comes from the databases sent by the brokerage house Dom Maklerski TMS Brokers SA and the firm Notoria SA. They include the following data flows:
1) Warsaw Stock Exchange indices,
2) Notations of companies on the Warsaw Stock Exchange,
3) Notations of futures contracts on the Warsaw Stock Exchange,
4) Notations of options on the WIG20,
5) Indices from the most important stock changes throughout the world,
6) Currency exchange rates,
7) Rates for the most important commodities and goods noted on the exchanges (gold, silver, copper, oil, natural gas, sugar, corn, wheat, soy, coffee and cocoa).
8) Rates for American 10-year debt securities.
It is worth noting that management of the content displayed by the teacher is done with the aid of special trainers program created specifically for the UITM.
The name - Financial Laboratory - is not accidental. The facility allows learners in this classroom to participate in simulated investment decisionmaking, just as it is done on the financial markets. This is possible with the two transaction platforms: Go4X, and TMS Direct, which make it easy and fast to make transactions both on the currency market (FOREX), as well as with derivatives. The first platform – Go4X – is particularly useful in teaching beginning investors. It has an unusually friendly interface to access the most typical financial instruments. The more advanced platform, TMS Brokers, allows investors to fully participate online on the worlds financial markets. By linking the transactional, analytical and information technology tools, a unique, professional and comfortable method of financial education was born. It is worth noting the fact that trading on the UITM platform does not require any real capital. Each participant can open a virtual investment account and trade their virtual money. A key role in the decisionmaking process on financial markets is played by todays analytical tools, useful in enhancing the individual participants investment strategy. Another advantage of the Go4X and TMS Direct platforms is not only the fact that they offer access to these tools, but they also present the results in an interesting and understandable form.
Find out more about the Go4X platform http://www.go4x.pl
Key aspects of the Go4X platform:
1) Continous trading conditions,
2) Narrow spreads,
3) 1:20 leverage,
4) 24/7 notation,
5) All orders made in immediate transaction mode,
6) Permanent spreads on pairs of PLN (GBPPLN 50 pips, USDPLN 30 pips during the hours 8-22 and GBPPLN 150 pips, USDPLN 100 pips between the hours 22-8),
7) Variable spreads on eight currency pairings,
8) Advanced tools for technical analysis,
9) Data exported in text forms CSV, HTML, or DDE.
Find out more about the TMS Direct platform http://en.tms.pl/
Key aspects of the TMS Direct platform:
1) unlimited access to the FOREX market, spot, forward and currency option contracts with a range nearly 160 currency pairings,
2) 10,000 financial instruments from the online FOREX (currency market), CFD (contracts for difference) and futures (closed contracts),
3) New possibilities for investing on the foreign stock markets and market indices in the form of CFD contracts,
4) over 450 futures contracts from leading foreign, index, commodities, precious metals, and debt securities markets,
5) a flexible charting module which provides independent technical analysis capabilities for all of the instruments accessed,
6) a wealth of order possibilities: after market price, limited, stop-loss, conditional, or one cancels other.
It is no accident that the Financial Laboratory is located far from the city center, at the Centre for Tourism and Recreation (CTiR) in Kielnarowa on the UITM campus. The choice of this location provides phenomenal conditions for learning – connecting the latest technologies with a superb natural environment is something unusual and doubtless will lead to exceptional learning results as well as fine academic research. The CTiR is in a bucolic location with lovely views of Rzeszow and the entire area, part of the Dynowskie Hills, and it has the infrastructure to satisfy the most demanding learners. The Centre facilities include a full-sized sports hall, horse riding stables, a line park, a climbing wall, tennis courts, wellness center and SPA, a weight room, sauna and massage room.
Another such Financial Laboratory equipped as the UITM not only cannot be found anywhere else in Poland, but there is nothing like it in all Central-Eastern Europe. This kind of place makes learning finance possible under the conditions reflecting both the needs of today society and the job market, as well as the expectations of young people beginning their university career. Studies show that financial knowledge is at a low level in Poland. It is ranked lower than the European average. At the same time the financial markets are becoming more and more complex, and as a result this knowledge gap may increase if no steps are taken to raise the level of financial knowledge among educated Poles in this context. In addition, monitoring of the job market – both in Poland and abroad – shows that among the careers with the most perspectives for the future are those which require financial qualifications. Often the example is given of specialists in designing packets of a wide range of financial services – financial advisors, investment advisors, analysts and financial dealers. Finally, young people interested in studying finance expect an education which has been designed for today times and a visual civilization for which the use of the latest technology and the specific manner of information delivery is key, it is important to go beyond the traditional lecture formula of teaching. The UITM Financial Laboratory was well-thought out, designed and implemented in order to meet all of these expectations.
At the same time it is a response to the needs of the academic community, with its access to specialist databases. The data which the UITM lab users can access makes it possible to carry out advanced academic research. An innovative project which aims to analyze the effectiveness of automated transaction systems is already underway in the lab.
WHAT IS NEXT?
The Financial Laboratory in its present shape is the result of the first stage of a concept created by the University of Information Technology and Management in Rzeszow for a professional infrastructure for educating financial staff. In the future the laboratorium will be further equipped, with for example a ticker – a special device displaying selected, synthetised data such as currency quotations on the capital market. There are also plans to purchase a subscription to use the Thomson Reuters databases and other analytical tools from this firm. Among these are to be found the Reuters 3000Xtra program distinguished by the following functionalities:
1) access to fundamental data, (including historical) for debt and asset instruments,
2) access to analytical models which make it possible to compare securities and perform simulations,
3) the ability to enter data to an MS Excel file.
In addition to the Reuters 3000Xtra program, there are also plans to provide access to the Reuters Knowledge service, which contains fundamental data and financial reports as well as:
1) provides access to the global information database of Reuters Global News, making it possible to search for specific financial information,
2) offers archived data for the past five years,
3) gives access to recommendations, information about events, reviews of financial securities markets and their summaries,
4) contains a database of government treasury securities for over 40 countries.
Plans further into the future call for the opening of another lab of this type at UITM.