Haas Launches Center for Innovative Financial Technologies

The Haas School is launching a new center to study innovative financial technologies and to provide resources for students to learn the latest tools of the trade, Dean Rich Lyons announced today.

The new Center for Innovative Financial Technologies (CIFT) aims to develop and share deep understanding of how new technologies impact global electronic markets, investment strategies, and the stability of the global economy.

Finance Professor Terrence Hendershott and Adjunct Professor John O’Brien serve as the faculty directors of CIFT. David Leinweber, Haas Finance Fellow and author of the new book Nerds on Wall Street: Math, Machines & Wired Markets (Wiley 2009), is the founding director. Solomon Darwin, former executive director of the Haas School’s Center for Financial Reporting and Management, serves as the executive director of the center.

A major component of the new center is the CIFT Lab, which hosts the latest analytical tools and industry software as well as real-time data sources. In the wake of the financial crisis, as many broker relationships are being replaced by direct access to electronic markets, the lab supports critical faculty research into new relationships and processes, and teaches students cutting-edge financial software skills that are highly sought after by recruiters in the finance industry.

“We need to do hard research and thinking on our financial markets and bring the findings into the classroom as soon as we can,” says Dean Rich Lyons, an expert in international finance and foreign exchange. "The fields of computer science and finance are deep strengths of UC Berkeley. The intersection, where CIFT lives, is an extremely promising intellectual frontier. It's a natural for this campus.”

The center’s lab is located in S300I and is open for use by faculty and students at all levels. MBA students in this fall’s Portfolio Management course will use the lab to develop investment strategies that will later be judged by investment professionals. Master’s in Financial Engineering students will learn profit-maximization techniques within the context of their greater economic impact. PhD students will conduct thesis research with real-time SEC data. And undergraduate students are exploring the latest tools of the investment industry as part of a student-organized course.

"There are many opportunities in quant trading, and the new center and lab give us training on the very latest industry tools, which offers a big competitive edge,” says Max Dama, BS 2011, a student volunteers in the lab. “I look forward to hanging out with others interested in this industry to discuss trading strategies."

Thompson Reuters, Standard & Poor’s, Dow Jones, Rosenblatt Securities, Aleri, and Barra are among the companies sponsoring the center with donations and in-kind gifts. The CIFT lab will provide the following tools, which went live on August 17:

1. Integrated Data-Rich Analytical Tools (including TR Web QA, MarketQA and QA Direct; all TR Investment Management System; and Capital IQ & Clarifi Modelstation)

2. Analytical Tools (including Data Visualization and NLP Environment)

3. Data sources (including Proprietary Information for Research, Thomson Reuters Universe, Real-time SEC Public Filings, and Dow Jones News Archive

In addition, CIFT plans to host conferences and guest speakers, training sessions and career-related support, as well as non-degree executive education programs. Learn more about CIFT.