A Wall Street Trading Icon: What Is a Bloomberg Terminal?

Written By
G. Dautovic
July 18,2023

The Bloomberg Terminal has been around since the 1980s, and Wall Street traders have used it as their preferred financial instrument ever since.

Although you must have seen it in an office or on TV, you might still be wondering: What exactly is a Bloomberg Terminal? We’ll answer that question in this article, but also some others, such as why it’s so popular and whether there are any viable alternatives. 

Keep reading to learn more!

How Was The Terminal Created?

The Bloomberg Terminal is a computer system designed for traders, bankers, and other financial professionals. 

It was created in the early 80s by Michael Bloomberg after he had left the Salomon Brothers investment bank, where he was the head of equity trading and sales at the time. Bloomberg used a portion of the $10 million he got as part of his severance package and invested it in his future enterprise. 

The original Bloomberg Terminal used some IBM PC components as a basis but modified the functions so that financial professionals who were inexperienced with computers could use the setup efficiently.

The Terminal changed some of its technology over the years, but the core of its service -  the first-rate research and news reporting, as well as the proprietary software tools - remained.

Who Uses The Bloomberg Terminal? 

The Terminal's target market consists of traders, analysts, brokers, portfolio managers, and investors. Most of the users come from the ranks of institutional investors who are able to afford the substantial monthly and yearly fees. 

Therefore, the terminal's subscriber base includes banks, hedge funds, investment firms, and some individual investors. Bloomberg L.P., the company behind the Terminal, estimates that there are more than 325,000 subscribers worldwide.

Also, a number of universities have a Bloomberg Terminal subscription in order to provide students with access to real-world financial market experience.

What Is the Bloomberg Terminal Used For?

The Terminal, offered through Bloomberg Professional Services, allows professionals in the financial services industry to access Bloomberg's proprietary data and information feeds. 

In addition to offering real-time market data for stocks, bonds, and other securities, the Terminal also provides economic indicators, news stories, and analyses from Bloomberg's team of journalists and economists. 

Subscribers can use the Terminal to create customized portfolios, monitor their investments, place trades, and communicate directly with other Bloomberg Terminal users.

What sets the Bloomberg Terminal apart from other financial data providers is the sheer amount of information it offers. There are more than 350 research professionals and more than 2,700 news professionals working for Bloomberg L.P.

What Does the Terminal Look Like?

The Terminal is sold as a software program that can be used on Windows systems. Moreover, the Bloomberg Anywhere app allows users to use the software on mobile devices, as well as Macs.

However, for the purposes of optimal performance, the company still makes and provides some of the hardware components.

The Bloomberg Terminal’s screen, officially called the Bloomberg 15-inch Compact Display Terminal, is usually used as a set of two screens on an adjustable stand. 

Alongside the Starboard, which is the proprietary Bloomberg keyboard with added shortcuts for specific functions, the two screens covered with infographics and the predominantly orange-and-black interface make for the recognizable Bloomberg Terminal look.

The company also makes the B-unit, a compact device that allows you to safely use the Bloomberg Anywhere app with your portable devices. The B-unit is about the size of a credit card holder, and it’s equipped with a fingerprint reader that you can use to log into the Terminal.

What Are the Bloomberg Terminal’s Functions?

There are dozens of useful functions that you can use to advance your trading and investment activities. Here are some of our favorites: 

BMAP - This is a map that allows you to see shipping data and weather alerts that might include nuclear hazards, forest fires, or storms that could disrupt supply chains and influence a potential investment.

PEOP - If you want to know more about the business acumen of the people you’re hiring, this function has everybody working on Wall Street covered. 

SPLC - The supply chain function allows you to track a company's revenue, see who its customers are, and how much each client contributes to the total revenue.

BI - The Bloomberg Intelligence function is there to guide you through the ins and outs of any industry imaginable.

Some other unique features that you get by using the Bloomberg database are functions such as DINE, which helps you choose a high-end restaurant, or MLUX, which is designed for business people who like to do some luxury shopping during busy office hours. 

Is a Bloomberg Terminal Worth It?

The price for the Bloomberg Terminal is $24,240 per year if you have two or more Bloomberg workstations, but if you only have one, then you should expect to pay a little bit more for the subscription: $27,660

Although Bloomberg has the biggest market share with around 33%, Refinitiv Eikon is up there, covering around 20% of the market with its service. Refinitiv Eikon is slightly more affordable at $22,000 per year, and it tries to offer the same functions as the Terminal.

The less popular Bloomberg alternatives include Capital IQ and FactSet. They try to compete with the market leaders by offering a more affordable service, with FactSet costing half of the Terminal’s subscription at $12,000.

In the end, none of the competitors can quite match the accuracy and volume of Bloomberg’s financial data. Also, Bloomberg has been around longer, and the business connections made over the platform’s messaging system are something that’s hard to let go of.

It ultimately comes down to value, and you should only look for an alternative if you don’t need the Terminal’s high-end features.

The Bottom Line

For some, the Bloomberg terminal may seem like nothing more than a glorified spreadsheet. But for those in the financial world, it’s an invaluable tool that provides real-time market data on everything from stock prices to currency exchange rates.

For serious investors, the Bloomberg Terminal’s benefits simply outmatch everything its competitors have to offer. While the high price may be off-putting to some, professionals will find that it’s a small price to pay for such a powerful tool.


What does a Bloomberg Terminal cost?


The price of an annual Bloomberg Terminal subscription is $24,240 if you have two or more Bloomberg Terminals on your account, and if you’re only getting a single Terminal, the price is slightly higher at $27,660.

What is so special about the Bloomberg Terminal?


The Terminal sets the benchmark for what an all-encompassing software tool for financial analytics and trading can do. It also has a large number of users who are directly connected through the app, which makes it an invaluable tool for business networking as well.

What does a Bloomberg Terminal do?


The Bloomberg Terminal is a computer system that provides its users with real-time financial market data, news, and analytics. The system is used by financial professionals around the world, and it’s considered an essential tool for anyone working in finance.

For more information about the subject, read our full article: “A Wall Street Trading Icon: What is a Bloomberg Terminal?”

About author

I have always thought of myself as a writer, but I began my career as a data operator with a large fintech firm. This position proved invaluable for learning how banks and other financial institutions operate. Daily correspondence with banking experts gave me insight into the systems and policies that power the economy. When I got the chance to translate my experience into words, I gladly joined the smart, enthusiastic Fortunly team.

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