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The specialist financial databases are mostly available online via the library website. For Bloomberg, Datastream, SDC Platinum and Thomson Reuters Spreadsheet Link, you will need to come to the Finance Zone or the Precinct Library and log into one of our dedicated PCs.
The Finance Zone is available whenever there is no training session on (check the signs by the doors). The Precinct Library has specialist PCs that students can book via My Manchester. See the screens below which take you through the process. (Special thanks to the student who let me take these screenshots!)
(This post is a new version of WRDS website and access, July 2010)
WRDS (Wharton Research Data Service) is not really a database itself. It is a system designed to give researchers access to a range of financial databases (CRSP, Compustat, CCM, Compustat Execucomp, LSPD) though a common interface, and with integrated support.
Access to WRDS is via a username and password. Some taught modules provide students with a “class account” (such as Advanced Empirical Finance). MSc students, PhD students and academic staff can apply for their own username and password by following the instructions below. (Choosing the account type as PhD or Faculty provides extra capabilities for running SAS programs on the WRDS system.)
Creating a WRDS account (postgraduate students)
For instructions to apply for your own username and password, please see the following guide.
- Go to WRDS start page.
- Under the login boxes, click on link Register for a WRDS Account.
- Fill in the details as follows:
- Institution: University of Manchester
- Affiliation With Institution: Masters Student | Ph.D. Student
- First Name: your first name
- Last Name: your last name
- Email: must be your University email address
- Department: your school and division name
- Desired Username: University username mxxxxxxx is recommended
- When Do You Expect Your Degree?: End date from your library card
- Press Submit.
- An email will be sent to our library admin staff who should activate your account within 24 hours.
- You will receive an email explaining that your account has been activated. It will include a default password that you can change.
Creating a WRDS account (staff)
In Step 3.2 Affiliation With Institution, choose Faculty, Staff (IT/Librarian) or Research Assistant. If you are a ‘Research Assistant’, please also provide the name and email address of your supervisor. Lecturers and professors should choose ‘Faculty’; PSS, Library and IT staff should choose ‘Staff’.
Creating a WRDS account (undergraduate students)
In order for undergraduate students to have access to WRDS, a ‘Class’ account must be created by a lecturer for the subject your are undertaking. Ask your lecturer if you think you need this; they will need to follow the same steps as above except choose ‘Class’ in Step 3.2 and provide the course code.
A useful means to improve the technical knowledge of students (and librarians) is to undertake Certification in financial databases, such as Bloomberg, Datastream and Thomson ONE.com. Recently, the certification scheme for Bloomberg, with the official title of ‘Bloomberg Essentials Training Program’ has changed – this revised post highlights these changes.
I have successfully undertaken certification for a number of financial databases over the last four years, which has helped me in my role in the Business Data Service. This gave me the authority to be able to stand in front of students in a training session, having gone through the process myself and therefore being in a position to answer any questions relating to certification.
This article sets out my experiences and thoughts on database certification, comparing and contrasting some of those available.
The certification process involves becoming familiar with content relating to a database. This is represented in a series of videos (Datastream and Thomson ONE.com) and help screens (Bloomberg) on which the examination(s) are based. Upon successful completion of the examination(s), a certificate is emailed to the candidate, which can then be added to their curriculum vitae.
A candidate is required to be a current student at the university offering the database, to be covered by the usage licence and therefore entitled to use the product and undertake certification, for which there is no charge.
I will consider Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters certification schemes.
The certification scheme has changed from 16th July 2015. As such, there is new content, display format (Help pages, rather than videos) and examinations. In order to keep up to date and be in a position to better advise students attending my Bloomberg Certification training courses, I successfully retook the examinations for certification (October 2015) – the changes are detailed below.
Help screens are accessed at a Bloomberg terminal using the BESS function. Type BESS on the command line (top left) and press the Enter/Go button.
Having to be at a terminal to view the help screens and take examinations limits flexibility. This is because it restricts students to the opening hours of the buildings in which the Bloomberg terminals are located.
Help screens (Research content)
Enter the BESS [Bloomberg Essentials Online Training Program] function code on the command line and press the Enter/Go key. Then select ‘Instructions’ to get the screen below:
The Core Program includes: Getting Started with Bloomberg, The Bloomberg Excel Add-In, Bloomberg News and Research Functionality and Bloomberg Launchpad. The Market Sector program includes: Equity Essentials, Fixed Income Essentials, FX Essentials and Commodity Essentials. The screens assume no prior knowledge and develop a user to a moderate level of competence, covering numerous functions.
There are a huge number of functions (around 15,000) even after a large reduction following a recent review – this is reflected in the comment from Tom Secunda (Bloomberg co-founder): “A function that’s brilliant and never used is worth zero”. 
Questions are based on the content within the help screens. There are no sample examination questions. A candidate would need to obtain a Bloomberg Personal Login and use this to log in to Bloomberg prior to taking the examinations. This means the system knows who is taking an examination and their name would appear on the certificate, when examinations have successfully been completed.
Obtaining a personal login is a quick process, taking a couple of minutes – which I normally guide students through after a training session or at a later date by arrangement. Examinations are started from the BESS screen.
It takes a minimum of two examinations (Core [25 questions, multiple choice] plus one Market Sector, e.g. Equity Essentials [25 questions, multiple choice]) to qualify for a certificate. The Core examination must be taken and passed prior to undertaking a Market Sector examination and the date an examination is attempted is at the student’s discretion. The pass mark is 75% or better and an examination can be retaken once only. Students could of course choose to take more than one market sector examination, for which they would receive further certificates and demonstrate a wider grasp of the Bloomberg Professional service.
There is no time limit, but an examination needs to be completed in a single session – it isn’t possible to get part way through and return the next day, as terminals are closed down when a library closes.
After successfully completing a Market Sector examination, a dialog box gives a prompt to ‘Request Acknowledgement of Completion’ to confirm the email address to be used for sending the certificate. This is emailed as an image file attachment which can then be printed and/or saved.
Certification is currently provided in three areas: Datastream, Thomson ONE.com Investment Banking, and Eikon. Having undertaken the first two, I will deal with these, which follow the same format.
Videos are web-based: at Thomson Reuters Product Certification and it is a quick process to enter name and email address (university) each time when using a public PC, or details can be ‘remembered’ for seamless progression if using a private PC.
Having web access adds greatly to flexibility when preparing for examinations as viewing could be off-campus, in a hall of residence or private house, for example, and therefore not limited to library opening hours.
Thomson Reuters takes a different approach to the videos, in terms of timing, with narrower topic areas and hence shorter times for each video. Format: screen shots with dialogue boxes and an audio commentary – plug in headphones to the computer base unit.
Datastream: Around 130 videos are available, totalling about 6 hours of content. These typically last between one and seven minutes – much shorter than those for Bloomberg (18 – 35 minutes). This means that if a student is looking for guidance on a particular area (e.g. exporting a chart as an image file), it is possible to go directly to a video for this area, rather than have to go through a much longer video. As with Bloomberg, they assume no prior knowledge.
Thomson ONE.com Investment Banking: Around 40 videos, between one and six minutes in length, for total content time of about 1 ¾ hours.
Click on the required option on the certification page (e.g. Datastream) and follow the prompts to view the videos.
Questions are based on the content in the videos. Three sample questions are available from the certification page (see above) for each product.
There is a single examination for Datastream and Thomson ONE.com Investment Banking. Format is 30 questions, multiple choice, with a pass mark of 80% or more. An examination can be re-taken once only. So a slightly higher mark is needed than with Bloomberg (75%), but with Bloomberg, a minimum of two examinations is required to get a certificate.
Time limit: 60 minutes. This certainly focusses the mind and makes undertaking the examination more stressful, compared to Bloomberg, which has no time limit.
As with the training videos, the examination can be taken from any location with web access. Click on the product option (e.g. Datastream) and a further option then becomes visible on the left hand menu: Step 2: ‘Ready to take the certification ?’. Once selected, this sends an email with a link within to begin the examination.
This is emailed as an image file immediately after successfully completing the examination, which can be printed and/or saved.
A 30-minute session covering the steps involved in certification for the database in question.
Evolution of training
Adapting to the reaction of students in the first training sessions, I added an introductory section in the middle, which covers searching and the type of information/data available within each database. This allows students to get an appreciation of the ‘look and feel’ of the product, rather than just concentrating on the key steps in certification. This definitely improved the training and resulted in a more rounded course and better student attention.
Responding to this is a bit of an art … what other commitments and events can reduce demand or result in students who have booked a place not attending? Reading week is to be avoided – most undergraduate students have gone home. Other factors include jobs fairs which are promoted at short notice and end of year examinations (April/May), when demand for certification training is markedly reduced.
In the training sessions I suggest a couple of potential approaches to preparing for certification examinations. First, spend a few hours each week building familiarity gradually. And, secondly, waiting until directly after the end of year examinations and putting in a concentrated effort to complete certification – seven days, for example.
Certification benefits – students
Employability: an additional qualification which can help to set students apart from other candidates – who may otherwise have very similar qualifications.
Database overview: certification gives an overview of searching techniques for a database, meaning they can make more effective use of the content available from a database. For example, completing Datastream certification would mean an MSc student on a finance-related course would be fully prepared to search for quantitative data in support of their dissertation.
Flexible Working: students can progress at their own pace and choose when to take the examination(s).
Certification benefits – library staff
Builds technical knowledge: to improve capabilities when answering student research enquiries.
I did this by effectively summarising the certification content. This involved compiling comprehensive notes on areas I felt I needed to memorise (from the videos in Bloomberg) and developing a certification manual (for Datastream and Thomson ONE.com Investment Banking). This gave me familiarity with the content and when completed, a quick reference source to consult. Once the examination(s) were completed, I developed a training course to guide students in the certification process, thus passing on my expertise.
Flexible working: I could progress at my own pace, taking into account other work commitments. Hence, the preparation for certification could extend over many months. This is reflected in my certification completion dates: Bloomberg (November 2011), Datastream (February 2013) and Thomson ONE.com Investment Banking (January 2014).
Database promotion: a means to promote the use of Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters databases to students, emphasising the benefits to be had.
The provision of the certification schemes by Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters is a great benefit and represents a worthwhile investment of time for both students and library staff.
By providing certification training to guide students and promote success in the certification process, the library is helping achieve a university goal – to improve the employability of students.
In setting the level of difficulty, Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters have struck the right balance – sufficiently rigorous to be seen as having value by employers, but not so difficult that only a few can pass the examinations.
The certification training sessions provided within the library have been successful, with continuing demand over a number of years.
Last month saw the release of the latest version of Microsoft’s ubiquitous Office suite for Windows, named version 2016. It brings new features and a design more in line with that of versions of Office released for iOS and Android. Many students beginning their studies this month will arrive at university with this version of Excel on their computers.
This is not a concern for users of the most specialist financial databases at The University of Manchester Library as the databases are installed on cluster PCs which will remain on Windows 7 with Office 2010; it may become a matter of concern for those at other institutions who are responsible for PC updates in the coming months.
I have run a few tests installing Thomson Reuters Datastream Advance for Office, Capital IQ Office Plug-in and Thomson Reuters Spreadsheet Link on Windows 7 and Windows 10 systems with Office 2016, specifically to check if their Excel add-ins work correctly. (I was not able to test Bloomberg due to its more limited restrictions.)
Datastream in Excel 2010: The version of Datastream that is most used at The University of Manchester is Datastream Advance for Office (DAO), officially supported by Office 2007 and 2010 32-bit versions and no newer. (There is a version for 64-bit Office which I have not tested, called Datastream for Office (DFO), and a Datastream charting add-in, also not tested.)
Datastream in Excel 2013: Although Office 2013 is not officially supported for DAO, I managed to install it on a Windows 10 32-bit tablet and got a Request Table to work. (Tip: save the Request Table document the first time it asks you to, otherwise you will get into trouble with macro-enabled filetypes later.) I have seen the previous version of DAO, designed for Office 2003, working with Office 2013 32-bit on Windows 8.1 64-bit (sorry, screen shot not available).
Datastream in Excel 2016: Although Office 2016 is also not officially supported for DAO, I managed to install it on a Windows 7 32-bit PC and got a Request Table to work. I could not install it on a Windows 10 64-bit PC, using Office 2010 or Office 2016; it gave error messages such as “Compile error in hidden module: AFOHelp”.
In summary: Datastream works for me in Office 2016 with Windows 7 32-bit and possibly in some other situations but more testing is required.
I had a mixed but unsuccessful experience using the Capital IQ Office Plug-in. On a Windows 10 PC where I had already installed the software to use with Office 2010, running the Excel add-in on Excel 2016 would let me load the Capital IQ ribbon tab, access the template library, but it would not download any real data. I tried the usual troubleshooting methods but could not get the data to work.
When I tried to install Capital IQ Office Plug-in on Windows 7 where Office 2016 was installed, I got an error message that I could not work around: “Unsupported Office Version”. I guess Office 2016 is too far ahead of Office 2003 for it to recognise, even though I had Office 2010 installed as well.
I have not tried to contact their help desk yet; perhaps there will be a newer version released to address this. I am hopeful for this with Capital IQ; there will not be an update for either of these Thomson Reuters products tested today.
Thomson Reuters Spreadsheet Link
Unfortunately I was unable to run Thomson Reuters Spreadsheet Link (TRSL) in Office 2016. It is not officially supported in anything newer than Office 2010 so I was not expecting it to start working again in Office 2016, but running on the Windows 10 PC Office 2010 showed part of the Excel add-in loading; perhaps it had worked on that same PC a few months earlier.
Many of the archive specialist database platforms that researchers use are dependent on old and ageing pieces of software. It is asking a lot to expect software written over five years ago to continue working in successive releases of the Windows operating system, and an even harder challenge to make it work within multiple Office environments on each of those platforms. Sometimes these old applications would require major redevelopment to work, sometimes just a tiny tweak. If that tiny tweak requires a disbanded team and development environment to be resurrected, it’s just as unlikely to be fixed as a major job. Sadly, the Thomson Reuters Excel add-ins fall into one of these categories. We will have to wait until Eikon is ready for wider use in education, hopefully before the Windows 7 operating system reaches the end of its life for receiving security updates in January 2020.
With a wealth of information and functions available, it is easy to miss a few potentially useful commands in Thomson Reuters Datastream. Here are some examples relating to local equity indices and global ones. (This post assumes you are familiar with the basics of Datastream; please see the getting started guides or other posts for more.)
Local market index (LI and INDXL)
Given a list of companies (equities), it is possible to get time series data for the index which each company is listed on locally, specifically the price index (PI). The data type Local Market Index (LI) (green box in the image above) acts as a short cut to the following process for the equities Tesco PLC (TSCO) and Apple Inc (@AAPL).
- Identify the entity’s local index through the static datatype Assoc Market Index – Local (INDXL) (see the orange box in the image above).
- For each index, select the Price Index (PI) for the date range required (see the blue box above).
World Market Index (TOTMKWD and others)
On a related but different note, it is possible to use many international and global equity indices that have been constructed in Datastream. One such index is the top level World-Datastream Market (TOTMKWD), covering over 6,000 active constituent entities.
There is a systematic set of codes for various countries, blocs and combinations, for all or selected sectors. They are also findable in the Navigator (see image above) and usable as any other Equity Index. The first five characters represent the sector, the last two digits represent part of the world, so you could use combinations such as the following.
- For the World market index at level 1 use: TOTMKWD
- For the French financials industry index at level 2 use: FINANFR
- For the Europe banks sector at level 6 use: BANKSER
For full details, go to the Datastream Extranet (via the Datastream Desktop application) and search for “Global Equity Indices User Guide”.
The newly released Windows 10 is a currently a free upgrade from Windows 7 and Windows 8.x. It claims to “transform the way you work and play” amongst other things. It also marks the launch of a new web browser Microsoft Edge, replacing the 20-year old Internet Explorer (IE). Edge is a great move forward for web developers and hopefully will be preferred by end users but, as always, change comes at a cost; the many legacy web-based platforms that were built for IE 6 or later may not work. Fortunately, IE 11 is still available for the sake of compatibility, but is using Windows 10 and multiple web browsers a smooth ride?
How compatible are our business databases with Windows 10?
Some of the specialist financial and business databases that The University of Manchester subscribes to have been tested below.
Not compatible with Microsoft Edge:
These two reputable products are widely used but they are built on old technology (old by web development standards). They were already limited to work on Internet Explorer only in Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8 and 8.1.
ThomsonONE.com shows a blank screen if loaded in Microsoft Edge.
Thomson Research will load but some of the dialog windows do not work in Microsoft Edge.
Solution: Click in the new Search box next to the Start button (bottom left of the screen), type “Internet Explorer” and open the old browser. From here, go to the Library website and find ThomsonONE.com in the usual way. (Note, if you try the option to “Open with Internet Explorer” from within Edge may not work for this website.)
Compatible with Microsoft Edge:
So far, I have found that all out other web-based specialist databases are compatible with Microsoft Edge.
Please comment below this post if you find otherwise! I will update this post as necessary.
A later post on Business Research Plus will explore databases that use Microsoft Office 2016 and Windows 10.
For UK companies
In Fame, the date of incorporation in the Company report, under the Legal & accounts information section.
For US companies
Use Field-Ritter Dataset of Company Founding Dates (Firms going public in the US 1975-2014, last updated 14 April 2014)
For companies in any country
In Datastream, Use a Static Request and the Worldscope datatypes:
- WC18272 – Date Company Founded
- WC18273 – Date of Incorporation