Editor’s note: Westchester Community College Professor Richard Hyland sent us this write-up about a recent trip a group of WCC students took to Wall Street:
Members of WCC’s Global Business Club visited the NY Stock Exchange recently at the invitation of WCC Alumnus and former NYSE Trader Marc Ruppenstein. Ruppenstein, who is currently a studying at Columbia University, invited the small group to a private guided tour of the floor of the venerable exchange known for its raucous “open cry” system of buying and selling stocks. The exchange, which traces its roots back to the late 1700’s, was known for its high-energy activity in which stock traders would shove each other around on the floor, use hand signals, and shout out orders. This system has since been replaced by a more mild mannered approach that increasingly relies on computer systems to conduct stock trades.
Students were treated to an in-depth explanation of the intricacies of a securities transaction by Bank of America Market Maker, John McNierney. “The exchange has undergone tremendous changes in the past decade with the advent of computerized trading systems. It is really a different world these days.” Said McNierney. “In the past, I used to have more leeway in terms of what trades happened and when they were executed – I could come in and react to what was happening. Things happen so quickly now, that I have to come in with some ideas on what I want to do that day. I have to be more proactive than before.”
The Club, which includes students Omari Byfield, Karine Pitton, James Kane, Beltino Goncalves, Elma Kurtovic, Sarah Winston, Di Tang, Kwame Duodu, and David Kwon, were accompanied by Mamaroneck HS student Steven Hyland, and Business Professor Richard Hyland.
“This is my first time vising the floor of the New Yorks Stock Exchange” said Professor Hyland. “Studying business is important, but there is no substitute for actually getting into the mix with the movers and shakers that make things happen in the business world. This was a really great experience for this group and for me.”
Earlier that morning, Professor Hyland and Omari Byfield visited the CME Group’s Commodities trading operation – a merger of commodities trading firms formerly known as the NY Mercantile Exchange and the COMEX. The trading floor, which trades precious metals, like gold, silver, and platinum and other commodities such as cotton and corn, also deals in derivative securities. Professor Hyland explains “Derivatives take many forms – most people are familiar with the term ‘stock options’. The whole idea of a derivative security is that it derives its value from something else. In other words, you don’t actually sell gold, silver, or stocks, but instead one can trade instruments that base their value on those things. The concept is simple, but the valuing these things and understanding all of the implications can be quite complex,” he concludes.
The half-day trip to Wall Street wrapped up with a few snapshots of the students near iconic Wall Street landmarks such as the Federal Building, and the NYSE entrance. Jim Kane, the President of the Global Business Club said of the trip “The NYSE trip was a lesson outside the classroom for me and all who attended. Watching & talking to professional traders and seeing millions of transactions taking place and feeling the pulse of the financial market was exhilarating. It was an excellent opportunity for the Global Business Club.”
The Global Business Club accepts members on a rolling basis and has a number of exciting trips like this one planned for the upcoming spring semester. Students who wish to join the club or would like more information can contact Professor Hyland – Rick.Hyland@sunywcc.edu, or Club President Jim Kane – firstname.lastname@example.org.