University simulates life on Wall Street


The Greenleaf Trust Trading Room at WMU's Haworth College of Business brings students closer to the finance industry. Courtesy WMU

Business students at a university in the region are getting real-time financial and stock experience due to a gift from a neighboring financial institution.

Greenleaf Trust, a trust-only bank with offices throughout Michigan, including Kalamazoo, funded the latest addition to Western Michigan University's Haworth College of Business, the Greenleaf Trust Trading Room.

Real-time perspective

The trading room, which opened this week, features Bloomberg and Morningstar terminals, an electronic ticker with scrolling stock prices and software typically used by finance professionals.

With real-time data on market movements and news updates on large screens in the classroom, students will gain hands-on experience analyzing stock quotes, building and testing investment portfolios and comparing currency exchange rates.

The trading room will also have market boards located outside of the room with a stock-ticker display to increase awareness of real-time daily business activity.

Kay Palan, dean of the Haworth College of Business, said the new trading room offers students an enriched classroom experience.

“The gift of this trading room allows us to improve the student experience in so many vital ways,” Palan said. “The facility improves student readiness for careers in the financial sector. . . . and it allows students to heighten their analytical skills. We are so grateful to Greenleaf Trust for making this space a reality.”

Fund management

The trading room will be used for a variety of business classes, including the Student Managed Investment Fund, which is available to undergraduate and graduate students for credit.

Originally established in 2009, the WMU Foundation selected a group of students as a large cap manager of $500,000 in funds to allow students hands-on experience in fundamental research and financial management.

Since 2009, a group of 10 to 15 business students have increased the value of the portfolio to $1 million.

They are currently being instructed by David Mange, chief financial analyst, vice president and senior research analyst at Greenleaf Trust

Finance jobs

Devrim Yaman, department chair of finance and commercial law at WMU, said with industry employment projected to increase through 2020, it's important for the university to expose students to a variety of opportunities.

“This space transforms what we are able to do with our students in terms of teaching about the financial markets,” Yaman said. “With the U.S. Department of Labor predicting employment in investment and related fields will expand 25 percent by 2020, it is critical that we fully educate our students in the wide range of financial assets available for trade and the globalization of securities markets.”

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