The Anisfield School of Business’s Global Financial Markets Trading Lab opened just a few short years ago, and its new director-a Ramapo alumnus-is only in his second semester working here, but already the lab has taken on new projects in order to expand its use in the business school and beyond.
Despite hosting the biannual Wizard of Wall Street trading competition again this semester, unveiling a new Course Enrichment Component (CEC) for corporate finance classes, launching an Investment Club, and coordinating stock trading lesson plans in four additional business classes, Director Brian Goldberg said he has even bigger plans and goals for the trading lab in the near future.
“I think we are making progress,” Goldberg said. “We feel there’s still so much more we can do with [the trading lab]. Slowly, over time, I think we’re going to figure out how to maximize its potential.”
Housed on the top floor of the ASB building overlooking the campus, the trading lab has 32 student workstations equipped with the latest software simulating a variety of financial markets. An electronic ticker flashes colorfully to indicate up-to-date stock prices and information. The lab tends to be populated with students, most of them working on class assignments or keeping up with their investments for the Wizard of Wall Street competition.
The 10-week competition began Oct. 1 and is now in its second week. According to Goldberg, there are 69 teams and 77 total students competing this semester, all managing a $1 million virtual portfolio to earn more return on investments than their peers. Cash prizes will be offered to the top three finishers: $200, $100 and $50.
Though Goldberg said the number of students participating this semester is down slightly than last (in the spring, there were 83 students involved, encompassing 73 teams), the competition itself is broader: students can now choose to invest in and trade not just S&P 500 stocks, but in commodities, index futures, currencies, and exchange traded funds (etf’s).
“My strategy came from information from the news about commodities like oil, gold and silver, that were performing well at the time,” said Bennett Galperin, a junior, who ranked among the top participants in the competition last semester. “From the trading competition, one can take away the true importance and opportunities that the stock market offers.”
The competition has also been opened up to all students, not just those in the business school. Goldberg mentioned that some nursing and psychology students, among others, signed up this semester to participate.
Senior John Goode, who has participated in the competitions since they first started and now works in the trading lab as an assistant, said that any student can benefit from trying their hand in the lab.
“Students can use the trading competition as a great way to learn about stocks if they’re curious,” Goode explained. “On the flip side, older students can use the knowledge and methods they’ve learned throughout their classes to make educated and informed decisions on their purchases or sales of stocks. At the very least, it’s a great way for a student to test out their luck!”
Goldberg said taking part in the trading competition, aside from fun and games, is practical for any college student who wants to prepare for the real world.
“One of the goals [of the trading lab] is for students to be aware of the stock market and increase their financial literacy,” Goldberg explained. “I think people…having financial market literacy can open them up to opportunities to increase their net worth down the line [and] take ownership of their financial situation.”
Aside from the competition, Goldberg said business classes are utilizing the lab more this semester. Currently, three classes are held in the lab itself and others incorporate use of the lab into certain sections of the curriculum.
“It makes concepts that are covered in the classroom and the course readings more tangible,” Goldberg said. “Seeing it actually unfold…is one of the cool things about it. It’s great to modernize the curriculum.”
An additional 152 students are also using the trading lab to monitor the markets for Corporate Finance classes. This is the first semester that the course’s mandatory CEC assignment requires students to invest a virtual $1 million and use theories from class to support their choices.
“They have to make their investment decisions based on an article in either the ‘Wall Street Journal’ or Barron’s,” Goldberg explained. “Their thesis has to stem from some sort of news article, and they have to do a minimum of one trade a week [to] essentially stay on top of the business news.”
Since Corporate Finance is a core course in the College’s business program, every ASB student regardless of their concentration will eventually get hands-on experience with stocks in the trading lab.