Money talk: Randall K. Minas CFP (L) talks money matters with Indiana State University finance students Alyse Houghton, Mansour Alturki, Bobbie Jackson and Dr. Tarek S. Zaher in the new Financial Trading Room at the College of Business.

Indiana State University now has a mini-version of Wall Street with the opening Thursday of a financial trading room.

Housed on the first floor of the College of Business, the trading room features multiple stock tickers, three video data walls and 24 student work stations with dual monitors.

“We’ll have the capability of exposing students to the kinds of research information they’ll need to become financial professionals,” said Bruce McLaren, associate dean of the College of Business.

The trading room will help jump-start the professional careers of finance and financial services students.

In addition to offering a finance major, the College of Business recently launched a new financial services major at ISU to prepare students in a variety of fields, including investments, banking and insurance.

“We hope our students will be more successful in the job market because of the hands-on experience they’ll have here in college,” McLaren said.

The new trading room is a point of pride for the college, he said. While many schools in the northeastern United States have them, “It’s pretty unusual for Indiana,” he said.

Only two or three other Hoosier universities have them.

The trading room is a pilot for what will be even bigger and better once the College of Business moves into the Federal Building, which should happen in about three or four years, college officials said.

“We are thrilled in the College that we can start exciting, new programming for our students in anticipation of moving into the federal building,” said Nancy Merritt, dean of the College of Business. She anticipates great student demand for use of the trading room.

The trading room and its operations are funded in part by gifts from Randall and Nancy Minas and Lilly Endowment Inc.

In January, the Minases announced a $150,000 gift to the ISU Foundation, the first in a series of gifts to support investment and financial education programs. A 125 percent match by Lilly Endowment brought the total value of the gift to $337,500.

“We look at this as a start, not the end to this project,” said Randall Minas, a senior vice president with Merrill Lynch in Merrillville. He and the couple’s daughter, Dawn, are both ISU alumni.

He was impressed with the ISU trading lab, which he said will give ISU students a good head start when they enter the financial world.

Minas said the dynamics of the financial world have changed dramatically since he started in 1976.

“They’re far more complex, far more global in nature and there are far more variables that affect the financial markets on a minute-to-minute basis,” he said. The trading center will provide students with the most up-to-date information as they develop their investment strategy.

Members of ISU’s Student Investment Club have already shown their expertise by managing a real $110,000 portfolio that recently grew in value by approximately 10 percent in just six weeks. Club members say the trading room may help them do even better in the future.

Club President Bobbie Jackson, a finance and economics major from Detroit, described the lab as “absolutely fantastic … when you’re hearing and seeing market data, it just motivates you to want to get more involved.”

Mansour Alturki of Terre Haute, a senior finance major and the club’s vice president, said the trading lab “gives us an opportunity to do hands-on trading. It goes beyond textbooks … We learn so much more from hands-on experiences.”

The trading room and its financial databases will allow club members to do a better and more thorough job of making informed investment decisions, Alturki said.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at (812) 231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.

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