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Faculty book examines cutting-edge financial trading systems

Associate Professor Alex Yap looks at the way today’s markets use computer programs to buy and sell stocks, bonds and commodities.

Associate Professor Alexander "Alex" Yap


At any given moment, stocks, bonds, financial derivatives, commodities and more are bought and sold around the world in such volumes that seconds can spell the difference between billions of dollars in profit or loss.

Even then, brokers who handle trades are no competition for computers that make identical decisions in just a fraction of the time, thereby affecting global stock market prices before humans have time to react.

In his debut book, Information Systems for Global Financial Markets: Emerging Developments and Effects, Alexander “Alex” Yap at Elon University sheds light on the systems and technologies that automatically execute transactions based on complex formulas involving prices and trends. It’s a resource that the associate professor of management information systems believes is highly needed.

“If you look at the financial markets today, they’re driven by computers trading on algorithms,” said Yap, an associate professor of management information systems. “This affects trillions of dollars in the global stock markets but not much has been written on it.”

The 498-page textbook published by Premier Reference Source comes at a time when day trading and swing trading are easier than every using multimedia platforms available through iPads and other portable electronic devices.

Financial information systems are a cross-disciplinary area between finance and management information systems. Academics tend to focus their scholarship and teaching on one of those two subjects, but a research overlap in these two disciplines is a great addition to classroom material, Yap said. “The book focuses more on academic research,” he said, “but at the same time, it has the appeal of drawing in readers for the practical side of financial trading.”

Yap uses real-world case studies to illustrate for readers the dynamics of financial electronic markets and the tactical technologies that influence investment decisions. As a trader himself, he also finds that the research he conducted for his book – and his knowledge of the various companies, industries and commodities he tracks – helps him provide more depth in class discussions and also more ways to assist his students in preparing for careers after graduation.

“Doing research for stock trading actually keeps me up-to-date as a business professor because every day I try to get updates on several innovative companies,” Yap said. “I can then talk with my students about it.”

Three Elon University faculty members assisted in various fashions with the book. Professor John Burbridge contributed content to one chapter, while Professor Wonhi Synn and Associate Professor Bob Pavlik served on the editorial board of the project, which is a peer-reviewed publication.

Yap earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of the Philippines, his master's degrees from Williams College and the University of Exeter, and his doctoral degree from the Copenhagen Business School. He previously taught at Virginia Commonwealth University before joining the Elon University faculty in 2002.

Eric Townsend,
12/7/2011 8:54 AM