I attended the Business Librarians Association Financial Databases Training event at the University of Birmingham on 14 May 2012. We received presentations about 7 financial databases – delivered by academic business librarians (not sales representatives!).
Fame (UK and Irish) and Amadeus (European) are company financial information databases provided by Bureau van Dijk. Both products (indeed all BvD products) run across the same platform and user interface. The user interface appears to be very intuitative – especially to a non-business librarian. The company reports were well laid out, and I liked the peer report option, whereby you can compare a company to it’s competitors, and the ability to create tailor-made reports. With Fame, you can also download orginal documents as submitted to Companies House.
PI Navigator by Anastasia Kelly (Sheffield Hallam University)
PI Navigator is an international company and markets financial information database provided by Perfect Information. PI Navigator is used widely in law firms – providing company reports and mergers and acqusitions information. The user interface involves building a search from options on the side-menu, with search criteria displayed at the foot of the screen. It’s supposed to be easy and user-friendly; however I was not convinced by the demonstration. One of the key features included the ability to download original company reports and documents. The presenter had experienced problems setting up ezproxy access to the database; but praised PI Navigator technical support, and online training tutorials.
Bloomberg is a leading international financial markets information database. It is used widely in banking and trading – less so in education (prohibitive cost). I was impressed by the look and feel of the Bloomberg terminal – a double black screen, a colour coded keyboard and dos-style command language. Indeed, the Bloomberg training suite is one of Cass Business School’s best marketing tools. Bloomberg provides more than stocks and shares information – there is business news and company / director profiles. I particularly liked POSH – eBay for the super-wealthy! Bloomberg is not a user-friendly database, but it comes with a vast range of tutorials and a 24 hour support line.
WRDS (Wharton Research Data Services) is a business, finance and economics database for researchers provided by the Wharton Business School. WRDS is only the user-interface, you need to purchase data sets at additional cost. The presenter talked only briefly about the service: their only support is to administer user accounts and guide researchers to WRDS help services.
Datastream and Thomson One Banker by Steven Bull (University of Birmingham)
Datastream and Thomson One Banker (product replaced by T1.Com) are financial information databases provided by Thomson Reuters. The presentation was beset by technical problems connecting to data terminals – not helping to convince me that Datastream is entirely user-friendly. Datastream provides international public company, financial markets and macroeconomic data. The presenter, and many of the delegates, preferred to use Datastream via the Excel Add-in, rather than the Datastream client. I was pleased to recognise some of the research techniques demostrated by our own Andrew Dunn at internal UoL Datastream training earlier this month. Thomson One Banker ( T1.Com) is an UK and international comapny financial information database. It is unique because it harmonises data across regions, and enables direct comparisom.
Thomson Reuters were praised for their customer support, including support guides, online training videos available via Thomson Reuters Knowledge Network, and telephone/email help services. Delegates had mixed experiences with getting Thomson Reuters trainers onto Campus to deliver training direct to students. There was success in London (Cass) and Birmingham, but not further North.
Vendor backed training and certification schemes were a recurring theme during the day. Databases (financial and legal) are increasingly provide online training tutorials, and associated tests, leading to a certificate of competency. The certification schemes are popular with students as they add to employability.
The University of Birmingham proved to be excellent hosts: the training was held in a state-of-the-art group study room in the iconic Muirhead Tower (if you like the Rotunda!). Our welcome packs included a University of Birmingham Library Services branded note-paper, pen, pencil, ruler and drinks coaster. Coffee and pastries were served upon arrival; with a nice sandwich spread for lunch, and chocolate brownies for dessert. We also received a tour of the library during the lunch break – which is reassuringly full-to-the-rafters in this pre-exam period.