Free trade for virtual dealers

July 2, 1999

A new simulated high-tech trading floor will give college business students a competitive edge in the jobs market.

John Siam, director of the facility at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, says that it should give the college's future stockbrokers specialised training as well as give them higher starting salaries.

The centre boasts all the action of a modern stock exchange and Professor Siam says that students who graduate from the Educational Trading Centre could easily earn starting salaries of Can$50,000 (Pounds 21,500) in a sector that normally pays entry-level employees around Can $35,000.

The former liability trader and commerce professor compares the benefits finance students will reap from the centre, with a flickering stock ticker board and 20 computers flashing real-time stock options on their screens, to those attained by science students in a physics or chemistry laboratory.

"This makes financial theory come to life," says Professor Siam, who believes the centre will save six months of on-the job-training.

When he floated the idea of running a stock exchange in a university, he says financial colleagues told him "What took you so long?" The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce has donated Can$1.4 million, with Can$10,000 put aside for a yearly trader-in-residence. All the stock exchanges have waived fees for financial information and Reuters is offering a discount for data access.

Academia and finance will also be bridged by way of lectures from leading players in the financial sector.

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