Terminals are Losing Steam. Here’s Why Universities Need More from Their Financial Data Providers.

Chelsea Caltuna
September 22, 2020

People love their financial data terminals. If they didn’t, Bloomberg terminals wouldn’t have made somewhere north of $7 billion in 2018.

Universities often invest in these terminals because “it’s what students will be using when they enter the workforce.” This may still be true for traditional analyst roles – but it’s not as true as it once was.

You’ve probably heard the big new buzzword in finance: fintech, or financial technology. Hundreds of fintech startups have popped up to reshape banking, investing, insurance, and many other industries – forcing established financial companies with large market share to compete by innovating with their own fintech teams. (To wit: 77% of financial institutions plan to prioritize innovation efforts, while 82% plan to increase fintech partnerships, according to a study by PWC.)

Therein lies a critical challenge to the power of terminals: they might prepare future analysts, but they won’t prepare students for a wide swath of available finance careers. Global fintech investment in 2019 was about $135 billion, and the average annual fintech salary in the US is $145,000 – nothing to sneeze at.

Fintech isn’t going anywhere – but sadly, terminals aren’t keeping up. Here are five reasons why terminals aren’t meeting the needs of universities:

They don’t teach computer science and data analytics skills.

Whether students go to work at a fintech startup or a major quant fund that leverages quantitative or algorithmic trading, they’ll need skills that aren’t traditionally taught in finance programs (especially for undergraduates).

Students with a competitive advantage will have experience with programming languages such as Python and R, application programming interfaces (APIs), data visualization, machine learning, and more. We consistently hear from our fintech clients how difficult it is to find developers with finance experience – a combination of those skills can be extremely valuable in the industry.  

They don’t let you build anything.

Terminals are great for looking up information – not so great for actually doing anything with it. Bloomberg terminals typically do not provide API access, which means students can’t easily use the data in their own development environments to build algorithms, applications, and other tools.

No matter the industry, students benefit from having a portfolio of previous work for internships and post-graduation positions. Giving your students the tools to build out their ideas can make all the difference when it comes time to pursue their careers.

They’re expensive and extremely limited (and currently inaccessible).

Terminals have always had an accessibility problem: only one person can use them at a time, they’re location-based (ruling out online students or those at satellite campuses), and you can only use them during library hours – assuming you have time to hunker down at the library for a while.

All this to say that universities are paying $24,000 a year (the current price of a single Bloomberg terminal) for a tool that only a handful of students might use. Plus, if the majority of students are participating in online courses due to the pandemic, the terminal is almost entirely inaccessible.

They don’t encourage collaboration.

See above: only one person can use a terminal at a time. Unless you have multiple terminals (which is wildly expensive and still limited), there’s no opportunity for collaboration. No workshops, seminars, hackathons, demos, etc.

In this virtual learning environment, it’s more important than ever to have tools that can be used among groups of students, between professors and students, or between researchers working from separate locations. Although many financial data providers have developed platforms for education, they don’t account for the collaborative nature of learning.

They don’t support research and publication.

Students aren’t the only users who benefit from financial data platforms for universities. Professors and researchers are under immense pressure to conduct noteworthy research and get published. Without widespread access (especially during this pandemic) and no easy-to-use API, that research is stifled.

Researchers need real current and historical data, advanced tools, and remote access to perform cutting-edge analysis. Financial markets are anything but predictable right now and that presents a great deal of opportunity to researchers.

Are there non-terminal financial data platforms for universities?

We built Intrinio Academic to overcome the limitations of traditional financial terminals. Rather than simply bundling our data together and calling it an “Education” plan, we built a dedicated portal for universities.

Intrinio Academic meets the needs of learning and research institutions, especially in a time of remote learning, with:

  • A web-based portal that enables 24/7 access on any personal computer
  • A single license that covers every student, faculty member, and researcher
  • Advanced access tools like a world-class API and 6 software development kits
  • Interactive financial data labs that teach data analytics skills with Python and R
  • An annual price equivalent to one Bloomberg terminal, with none of the restrictions

We’re currently providing Intrinio Academic to all universities free through 2020. Request a free consultation and demo with our team to get started.

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