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Largest undergrad finance lab in Canada open for business

Finance librarian Stephanie Perpick helps students learn to use the tools of a job in finance (photo by Ken Jones)

Squint a little, and you might imagine you’re on the floor of a Bay Street financial firm. A stock ticker on the wall displays real-time information on hundreds of publicly traded companies, while 60 dual-screen computers flash results from professional-grade financial programs.

The only giveaway that you’re at a university campus is that the computers are being used by students in jeans and t-shirts, their backpacks tossed down at their feet. That and the lectern in the corner.

The new finance lab in the Instructional Centre will give University of Toronto Scarborough management students a leg-up in the work world, allowing them to learn using state-of-the-art software.

“These computers are equipped with the databases and analysis tools that you would find in the big Bay Street financial firms,” says Stephanie Perpick, the new finance librarian. “Students get to practice using tools that they’ll use for the rest of their careers.”

Every computer is loaded with market data and analysis programs including FactSet and Capital IQ, and the lab also boasts four Bloomberg terminals.

Students take finance courses in the lab, and also use the facility to complete assignments. Other software allows professors to run simulations that can compress six months of trading data into a 10-minute session, simulating the pressure of the fast-paced world of trading.

“Nowadays technical skills are important for any finance-related profession,” says Amad Qureshi, a fourth-year co-op management student and member of the Investment Society. “We all know the theories. But the real thing is how we apply those concepts.

"When we leave from this campus having learned all these technical skills, in the workplace we will definitely be able to make ourselves stand out from the rest of the candidates.”

Perpick was hired in January to direct the lab. She comes fresh from a job at BMO Capital Markets as a research consultant to the investment and corporate banking group, where she worked for six years. Before that she earned a master’s degree in library and information science at the University of Western Ontario

“For me it was an opportunity to come back to my roots. I’m a librarian and I wanted to be in a traditional library setting. It was a great way for me to get back to that goal, but still be engaged in the world of finance. It was a perfect fit,” Perpick says.

For students, it’s a chance to get training in the tools from a hands-on professional, as well as first-hand career advice.