What is Bloomberg Terminal and How to Use It?

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by Osaemezu Ogwu · 12 min read
What is Bloomberg Terminal and How to Use It?
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Here’s a Bloomberg Terminal guide for new and existing users of the software. This tutorial gives you an insight into the features of this highly functional tool and how to access them easily, irrespective of the financial market you’re trading.

Bloomberg Terminal is a tool that offers users access to Bloomberg’s Professional Services. As such, investors can view financial information, news, and messages in real-time. This computer software also offers analysis about companies and markets such as Equity, Commodities, Mortgage, Currency, and so much more. It also supports about 120 countries as well as 250 exchanges.

Bloomberg Terminal is a Windows-based application, which makes it compatible with Excel. Hence, downloaded data from the tool can be accessed using Excel spreadsheets. Bloomberg can also be accessed from a computer, smartphone, online, and even from the Bloomberg Anywhere service. For this reason, investors can view financial information in real-time irrespective of where they are.

The system is, however, not free given that a monthly fee is charged and a payment of $22,500 (it’s variable though) is required for each installation, yearly. The high cost is also one of the reasons why the majority of users of this tool are institutional investors, banks, portfolio managers, and brokers.

How to Use the Bloomberg Terminal

So, how can you work with the Bloomberg Terminal? There are two routes to choose from. But first off, there is a high price tied to owning the Bloomberg Terminal. The price you’ll pay differ for every user of the service. Therefore, you can either purchase or share the software with other subscribers. The latter is a cheaper alternative. Let’s take a quick look at each possible method.

Subscription

A subscription to the Bloomberg service can be made by calling Bloomberg on phone. Here, you’ll be connected to a representative that will note down your request and then link you with the right member of the sales team.

There’s the advantage of subscribing directly since a representative will also guide you through the setup process. This guidance may be via phone or someone will be sent over to assist you. In line with that, you get to have your own username and password without having to share it with several other users.

Sharing

But what happens if you opt to share with other subscribers, you’ll have to rely on a public facility with a Bloomberg terminal. Some universities and libraries have the system, hence, you can fall back on them.

An advantage of using a shared system is that it’ll save you the huge expenses of making a direct subscription. The disadvantage is that there is less flexibility to customize the software as you would like. You’ll also be sharing with other users. Hence, you’ll have to prioritize between cost-savings and high-level customization. And given that it’s a public facility you’ll rely on to access the system, you may have to share login details with others.

How to Navigate On the Bloomberg Terminal

While you now have the software, it is just as important to know how to navigate the Bloomberg Terminal. The easy way to go is to contact the Bloomberg customer support for assistance. You’ll get all the technical support you need and tips on how to make the most of the system. Nonetheless, here are some tips on how to navigate seamlessly like a pro.

Basic Navigation of the Bloomberg Terminal

The Bloomberg software comes with a physical keyboard that looks a bit different from regular ones. For starters, the function keys are replaced with market keys. Also, you get a more colorful design since there are yellow, green, and red keys on this hardware. Each key represents an asset class such as government bonds, municipals, equity, currency, etc.

Let’s take the function key, for instance, it will enable you to access currency pairs such as the USD-CAD, EUR-JPY, EUR-GBP, etc. Likewise, the key will enable you to access stock. There’s also a function that serves to enable you to connect with other users of the service through email or instant messages.

Navigation Keys on Bloomberg Terminal

  • PRINT: View print options.
  • PANEL: Move through the Bloomberg windows.
  • PG DN FWD: Scrolls the page forward in multiple-page screen
  • PG UP BACK: Scrolls the page backward in multiple-page screen
  • HELP: Searches for a word or phrase in the database. And allows you to chat with a representative
  • MENU: Serves as a BACK key to return to the previous screen. Pressing the MENU twice returns you to the main menu

Features of the Bloomberg Terminal

The Bloomberg Terminal features are numerous and some include:

Tickers and Abbreviation

Tickers and abbreviation enable you to access several functions provided on Bloomberg Terminal. An abbreviation like the MSFT (Microsoft) followed by the EQUITY and ENTER keys will bring up options that are related to Mircosoft stock. With menus, you’re informed of the stocks that are supported by the software, and also familiarize yourself with new ones.

On the other hand, memorizing the shortcut to functions that you use often will grant faster access to them since you won’t have to go through the menu each time. An instance of a Bloomberg shortcut combination is the MSFT EQUITY DES followed by the ENTER key. These keys pull up the description page of Microsoft stock. ‘DES’, in this case, represents ‘description’. A similar combination can be used to cull the description page of other securities.

Whether you are new or old to using the Bloomberg Terminal, the green HELP key can bail you out when you’re stuck. Each time this key is pressed, it presents a screen containing information on the function you’ve selected. There’s also a feature to send a request to the Bloomberg Helpdesk and it is activated by double-tapping on the HELP key (HELP HELP).

Messaging

Another Bloomberg feature you’ll come to appreciate is its messaging system. It allows you to stay in touch with other users of the system. All you have to do is check up on users also using the platform and decide on whether to send them an email or instant message. And those you contact often can be added as a speed dial contact.

News

Bloomberg also comes with the latest news, which you can use to monitor what’s happening in the financial market. There is also an analysis of companies as well as asset classes. Accordingly, using keys like TOP, NEWS and then followed by the enter key will enable you to access the latest news. To get full details, you only need to select the news’ headline.

Over and above that, sub-menus are built into the function and these sub-menus categorize news updates based on the class it falls under. There are also menus to cater to news based on location, topic, etc. In this case, you can settle for the latest news in the U.S. or the latest stories on bonds. Now instead of maneuvering to find your favorite news piece, you can set a default category. All you have to do is use the key and these categories will be presented.

Markets

The Bloomberg Terminal comes with a feature to view news for different financial markets. Therefore, you can easily access the trending stories for bonds, stocks, etc. Much more, the content can be displayed based on your preferred location. It, therefore, means that you can get what’s trending in any location of your choice.

Economics

You can also use the Bloomberg Terminal to keep track of economic forecasts. The keys you’ll need to access the economics page are the ECO GO keys. Here, you’ll find the impending economic data releases. There’s also a forecast from economists at banks and brokerages.

What’s more, you get to see the numbers predicted and a report for the previous month on the ECO screen. This page also gives you an insight into major economies in different markets. To get the data for a specific location, there are menus such as “Region” and “Country.”

Market Monitor

Bloomberg features several market monitor pages for different asset classes. There are some pages that center on just one asset class. The bond market, for instance, can be accessed using the PX1 ENTER key combination. The screen also presents financial information pertaining to the Dow, gold, oil, etc.

The market can also be accessed using the keys BTMM ENTER. Unlike the PX1 key, you get more options to work with the BTMM screen. While the BTMM and PX1 screens will provide all the information you need on the prices and performance of these assets in different markets, the one you settle for depends on which works best for you.

Furthermore, there are market monitors for bonds and equity markets. Some keys that can be used to check the equity market are the WEI GO. The result displayed will center on the price movement of equity index worldwide. There is also a menu that serves to give you more information about different markers based on their region.

Securities & Currencies

Bloomberg Terminal can also be used to analyze securities. You get to work with a wide variety of options including fixed income, commodities, equities, and so much more. There may be cases where you’re unable to locate the ticker for the asset class you’ll like to access, but there’s still a way to around it.

What to do here is enter the asset class followed by the key TK. For example, Microsoft stock can be accessed hitting the key EQUITY and then entering TK. You can then proceed to type the term Microsoft for the ticker to be presented. You’ll get several tickers that are offered by a particular company.

How then can you analyze security from this page? The key to resort to is and it will bring up the description of the market you were on. It will also include information about the company, price, market capitalization, and the company’s financial data. The latter will include the company’s balance sheet and even income statement.

Some asset classes that can be analyzed are:

Equity

Equity shares that are traded publicly can be searched for using different categories. It could be by name, country, or even exchange. There is also the equity menu that gives details of a stock’s past price, business description, and the corporate debt of the company if any. In addition, searches can be carried out for indexes. It is even possible to compare two equities at the same time.

Fixed Income

Users of this software can also search for fixed income securities in real-time. These securities are not limited to municipal bonds and corporate debt. Coupled with that, it is possible to determine the historical day-over-day changes in the value of a security.

Derivatives

The Bloomberg software can also be used to value securities including futures contracts, ETFs in real-time, and the same can be about the value of derivatives that may be hard to value.

SWAPS

Institutional investors use SWAPS, which is also a type of derivative. Accordingly, there is a SWAP manager tool on Bloomberg. And the tool can be used to enter the field of a swap at a particular date. There’s also the ability for users to check the swap curves which gives a good idea of whether the underlying inputs are inline with the forecasted values.

Foreign Exchange

Traders of the FX market can also fall back on this tool to view the rates for currencies in real-time. The news offered by the software as well as its economic updates makes it even more useful for traders in this market.

Tips on How to Maximize Bloomberg Terminal

The tips to using Bloomberg Terminal will improve the things you can do with this software whether you are a beginner or an advanced user. Some tips to arm yourself with include:

Utilize the HELP Function

A tap of the HELP button can give you more clarification irrespective of the page you’ve visited. You can hit this key once to access a description of a function, or double-tap on HELP to be redirected to Bloomberg’s help desk.

Access Cheat Sheets

Things get easier if you rely on cheat sheets that outline common functions with tickers. The sheets are ordered based on the asset class, to make it easier to analyze functions in a market you’ve chosen.

Check Out Bloomberg University

No, it isn’t a physical university, but a virtual university that consists of videos, informative papers, and so much more. Each of these can improve the way you interact with the software by enhancing your skills. When it comes to the seminar, you can select one tailored to your region to be a part. BU is the input you need to access the university.

Let a Representative Assist You

Unarguably, it is easier and faster to master the software if someone guides you through it. As such, you can have a representative pay you a visit to guide you through the system’s installation and functions.

Link Excel to Bloomberg

It is entirely possible to connect Excel to Bloomberg, thereby enabling you to analyze downloaded data from Bloomberg in a spreadsheet. The spreadsheet can be made to update its data automatically whenever it is accessed. Accordingly, input DAPI to insert spreadsheets into the software.

Alternatively, you don’t have to go through the stress of building your own spreadsheet since Bloomberg provides sample spreadsheets. They can be used to examine balance sheets or track the price of an asset. In line with that, the spreadsheets from Bloomberg can be tweaked to meet your needs.

Conclusion

Whether you’re a beginner or a professional user of the Bloomberg Terminal, this basic guide makes it easy for you to walk your way around the software. And once you’ve mastered its functions and even discovered more, trading different asset classes becomes a breeze. You’ll also be in a better position to make informed decisions about your trade using the historic price movements, company’s information, news updates and other features built into this tool.

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