Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Ticker, ticker on the wall

I was asked the other day whether a scrolling ticker was necessary for an educational trading room.  It got me thinking about how technology has changed, particularly how easy it is to get information (data and interpretations) compared to when tickers were first invented.  The first stock ticker was created in 1867; there is a web site www.stocktickercompany.com that describes the history of tickers.  According to the site, the last stock ticker was made in 1960.  In recent years, electronic tickers have replaced the old ticker tapes.  There are many companies in the electronic ticker business, just do Google search for “digital stock ticker” and you will see a range of (fairly similar) offerings
No question about it, tickers are attractive.  The question posed was: how important are they, specially since they tend to be one of the most expensive components of an educational trading room.   My response at the time was vague, I think mainly because I am not sure there is a right answer.  On the one hand, tickers help make the statement “we have a trading room” and if I had the budget, I would want one too.  On the other hand, they can only display a small amount of data at a time, and the data is usually delayed by 15 to 20 minutes.  You can get real time quotes for stocks on your cell phone, so delayed quotes on a digital ticker don’t really transmit useful information in today’s world.  In fact, showing delayed quotes contradicts one of the main selling points of a trading room, which is to give students access to the “same technology and resources” as real world trading floors.  No real world trading floor that I have been to has delayed data on their tickers.  In fact, many don’t have tickers at all; traders have access to real time data on their desktops and other devices.  You can check for yourself: point your browser to Google images and type in "Trading Floor" in the search box.  You will see lots of rooms with information displayed on mounted devices but surprisingly few scrolling tickers.  The same exercise on Bing images gives similar results.
So what’s the right answer?  I think it ultimately is a resource question.  What matters is the effective integration of trading room resources into a curriculum.  A ticker cannot be integrated, it has no direct pedagogical value.  It serves to attract attention to the trading room.  So if you are investing sufficiently in teaching resources and can afford a ticker, definitely get one.  And don't forget that like any other technology, they will need to be maintained and upgraded. Otherwise, you would get a lot more use from systems that provide real content, like additional Bloomberg terminals or a Morningstar subscription.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting perspective. I agree that there isn't a lot of academic value to a LED Stock Ticker, but I disagree that no real world floors have tickers (there are 100's with them). The reason most professional firms install tickers isn't for the data but to create an atmosphere to impress clients and visitors.

    The same holds true for a finance lab. The rationale behind the ticker is to create a cool space that impresses alumni and business partners to help the school gather more donors to increase the resources of a finance lab.

    If a school invests initially in the facility (cool monitors, video walls, trading style desks, tickers etc) they can create a gathering place for the program and leverage that space into more donors and partnerships that will help funding getting things like Morningstar, FTS, Stocktrak and others.

    So my 2 cents invest wisely. Put your initial round of funding into something that will help you create a buzz that allows you to continue fund raising to ultimately have a room that gives you access to all of the greatest teaching resources.