The Financial Education and Research Center is a state-of-the-art trading, research and teaching facility in the McCombs School of Business. Its mission is to:
- Assist students, faculty, executives, and the community to better understand the growing flow of financial data and to manage the impact of that flow on financial markets.
- Enable center users to participate in the development of new applications of information technology to finance.
- Provide technology resources and technical support for the AIM Investment Center, the Center for Energy Finance, Education and Research, The Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst Center for Private Equity Finance, and the Real Estate Finance and Investment Center.
A portion of the Center is home to the MBA Investment Fund. The fund is the first legally constituted, private investment company managed by students. It was created to enable MBA students at McCombs to obtain real-world experience in managing investment portfolios and in developing relationships with clients.
Teaching & Research
Academic activities supported by the Center included classroom instruction, video conferences, special presentation/events, data-feed workshops and simulation trading games. A focal point for finance programs at both the MBA and undergraduate level, the Center also serves as a laboratory for the creation of innovative teaching techniques.
Cutting-edge audio-visual and distance learning systems are integrated into the three-room, 3,000 square-foot complex. Faculty and students have access to real-time data feeds from leading providers of financial information. These data feeds can be used by students in a wide variety of classes ranging from finance classes on portfolio management to information impact management courses on the financial applications of information technology. The Center also supports teaching, research and community outreach programs.
In May 1996 George W. Bush, the former Governor of Texas, dedicated the Center. When it opened in Fall 1996, the Center was the only college campus facility of its kind. Former Dean George W. Gau was the founding director and he had a vision to create a state-of-the-art trading, research and teaching facility. Its goal would be to help the academic and business communities understand the growing flow of financial data, assess its impact on financial markets, and enable them to participate in the development of new applications of information technology to finance. Dr. Gau translated his vision into reality by enlisting the support of corporate sponsors.
The lead sponsor for the Center's initial development was Electronic Data Systems (EDS). EDS donated funds to cover a large portion of construction costs, provided personnel to assist in design, and secured in-kind support to integrate the varying data sources and technologies. Forty additional corporate partners donated equipment and services. Further funds were donated by Center Trustees, a group of leading investment banking and financial service firms who funded the Center’s annual operations until 2001. Donors gave a total of over $6 million in funding and equipment to the creation of the EDS Financial Trading and Technology Center. It's currently valued in excess of $10 million.
The Center started with: a trading room with 5 work stations, a classroom with 38 work stations, and a technology showcase room. The first major technological equipment upgrade was completed during the summer of 1999.
In January 2000, Dr. Gau resigned as director, and he appointed Dr. Beverly Hadaway as his successor. The Center's goal remained unchanged, but new opportunities for achieving it emerged.
After six years of operations, the facility's first major renovation began. Two of the founders of the AIM Management Group, Gary Crum and Bob Graham, helped fund the renovation through a generous endowment. Numerous employees of the AIM Management Group also contributed to the endowment.
Plans called for a complete remake of the trading room consistent with the donor’s corporate image. Project goals included increasing the number of workstations, expanding the meeting facilities available to the fund managers, and providing more storage space. The trading room was redesigned to accommodate six workstations, fitted with four flat screen plasma TVs and equipped with the latest hardware and software. A small conference room, with video conference capabilities, was created in the former technology showcase area. Finally, the focal point of the renovation was a 70-foot curved ticker, proving stock quotes and news headlines to the McCombs community. A ribbon cutting ceremony officially opened the renovated AIM trading and conference rooms on October 10, 2002.
Faculty and students served by the Center enjoy a state-of-the-art facility supported by the most accurate and timely data resources and analytical tools available. Each year the Center hosts numerous visitors and sponsor events focused on local community education. From its inception, the center has been the model for similar facilities developed on campuses across the country and around the world.
The Center gratefully acknowledges the contribution and commitment of the following firms to its initial development:
Electronic Data Systems
3M, Adaptec, AMX, Ascend, AutoPatch, Bay Networks, Black Box, Chatsworth Products, Inc., Compaq, Data Connection, Extron, Heuris, Hewlett Packard, Hitachi, Intel, IPC, MicroTouch, NEC, Northern Telecom, One Touch, Smart Technologies Inc., Sony, Steelcase, Sun Microsystems, Telemetrics, Viracon, V-Tel, Woodtronics, Bloomberg, Bridge, Dow Jones, I/B/E/S, MarketVision, Moody’s Investors Service, MCM, Reuters
CS First Boston, Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Dain Rauscher, Salomon Smith Barney