Financial Laboratories, Complementing Education

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As part of the implementation of a competency-based model, financial laboratories offer several benefits for learning. Teachers can complement their practice by encouraging students to put the theoretical concepts and examples completed in class into practice in a real environment, thereby, students will be able to develop better skills for financial analysis and decision-making.

By Manuel Espinosa Pozo
maespino@itesm.mx

Financial laboratories, known as FIN-LABs, are spaces in which students and teachers develop competencies for analyzing and forecasting companies’ financial behavior, investments and variables associated with financing performance. They make it possible to associate the behavior of economic-financial variables to diverse events that have a favorable or unfavorable impact on financial instrument valuation, companies and the economy as a whole.

Bloomberg L.P. is the world's leading financial data provider. One of the key services it offers is Bloomberg Terminal, through which users can monitor and analyze real-time market and financial operations. Incorporating the use of the Bloomberg platform into undergraduate and graduate economics or related curricula would be extremely beneficial for the educational sector. Financial laboratories offer diverse academic advantages from the perspective of teachers, students and the university itself, emphasizing the importance for graduates of being proficient in the use of the platform in terms of companies’ personnel recruitment, selection, hiring and development requirements.

The implementation of a competency-based model requires us to innovate not only in the way we teach students, but also in the way we integrate the curriculum, and to work collaboratively to develop these competencies in our graduates.

The platform offers Bloomberg Market Concepts (BMC) certification in basic practical concepts such as economic indicators, exchange rates, fixed-income instruments and equity shares. It also allows users to identify their level of proficiency in each of the concepts. Teachers can complement their teaching practice by encouraging students to put the theoretical concepts and examples completed in class into practice in a real environment. For students, mastering the platform’s tools will allow them to develop better financial analysis and decision-making competencies, since they will no longer have to spend time on gathering information, but will be able to focus on information management. In addition, universities that use this platform will be provided with comparative information on the preparation and performance of their students in this area of nowledge and that of other students from the leading universities around the world.

Students can practice basic concepts such as economic indicators, exchange rates, fixed-income instruments and equity shares, and also identify their level of proficiency in each of the concepts.

Therefore, if universities require this as an exit competency, including the use of this platform in their financial curricula has become a necessity. Hence the importance of developing a design within the program of study that considers students' exposure to tools, so that, on completing their studies, they will be skilled in the use of economic and financial analysis platforms like Bloomberg.

We can look at the use of the platform in greater depth and relate it to national and international certifications. The most relevant for financial professionals in Mexico and the world are:

●     La Asociación Mexicana de Instituciones Bursátiles (AMIB)

●     Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)

●     Certified Financial Planner (CFP)

●     Certified Financial Manager (CFM)

●     Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst Association (CAIA)

●     European Financial Planning Association (EFPA)

An example of how the use of financial digital platforms is being integrated across the curriculum can be seen at Utah Valley University, where the financial education program is based on five challenges. According to Professor Cary Wasden, students must:

  • Generate a financial report for potential investors that contains a professional analysis of a company and its respective sectorial analysis. This analysis must be exposed using a standardized format, a presentation and a video that summarizes the study results.
  • Pass level 1 of CFA certification and/or CPA certification. CAIA certification can be used for students who are interested in private capital investments, real estate or hedge funds.
  • Act as analysts and managers of investment funds created by students.
  • Participate in an internship or work experience at a company, performing responsibilities in the area of finance.
  • Author or coauthor a popular article to be presented to faculty and students from the area of finance.


This program is based on defining four levels of proficiency: Novice, Apprentice, Adept and Master, which implies that it begins with basic competency development, then delves into the more advanced subjects, until the desired level of mastery in the curriculum is achieved.

Including the use of a platform like Bloomberg in the financial curricula has become a necessity.

The implementation of a competency-based model requires us to innovate not only in the way we teach students, but also in the way we integrate the curriculum, and to work collaboratively to develop these competencies in our graduates.

If you have experience working on this topic, I think this would be the right moment to form a working group to exchange experiences and share best practices focused on education through the use of financial laboratories.


About the author:
Manuel Espinosa Pozo holds a Doctorate in Corporate Finance and is a professor of finance at Tecnológico de Monterrey and a financial consultant in regional development and agribusiness.