No Risk/All Reward
Future Investors and Money Managers Bank on Hands-On Learning
A group of finance students is huddled in the corner of a room, staring at computer screens. They scan stock data and market news. They write analyses. They buy. Sell. Trade.
It's another day for Cal State Fullerton's student investment teams. Every day they meet is an exercise in applying what they have learned in the classroom — using real funds to make real investments in the stock market, while gaining invaluable experience in portfolio management and securities analysis. The returns on their investments already are being put to good use in support of various campus programs, such as the Tutoring Center in the Mihaylo College of Business and Economics.
Michael Milligan, who teaches the two-semester, two-course program, stresses the importance of making the experience as realistic as possible to "bring students up to speed on what they will be dealing with when they begin their careers.
"This program has leveled the playing field for our students," says Milligan, who debriefs students after their job interviews to gain further insight that can be used to help get those jobs. "It's a great learning experience to be working in that kind of atmosphere."
Employers already are picking up on what graduates from the program can do. In the past two years, Goldman Sachs has hired several of the program's alumni, including Kelsie Ornelas, who graduated in May.
"It was, by far, the best decision I have made in my college career," she says of the investment program. "I gained in-depth knowledge of the capital markets and learned valuable financial analytical skills that are applicable to many finance-related jobs. I also learned how to work closely with teammates and navigate the recruitment process for finance jobs."
Graduates from the Class of 2014 also have begun making their mark. Christian Alvarez is on the institutional municipal bond desk for Edward Jones; Brian Ross works for Nestlé in its management sector program; Taek Lim is a junior analyst for Deutsche Bank; and Thomas Reinholm is working at Jackson Square Partners. Three members of the Class of 2013 — Blake Cornwell, Caleb Flores and Martin Santana — are now working at Pacific Life. Others work for Export-Import Bank, Disney, U.S. Trust and Wells Fargo.
"Going into the program, I knew that there were some great employment opportunities that prior students had access to," says Brandon M. Young. The investment program "has allowed me to gain real-world insight into the markets that I was not expecting."
Alumnus Funds Student Success
Jeffrey Van Harte '80 (B.A. business administrationfinance), chairman and chief investment officer of Jackson Square Partners, helped finance the initial startup of the student-managed investment fund. Earlier this year, he gave an additional $1.5 million toward the establishment of a new investment management center.
Dubbed Titan Capital Management, the center will enhance the educational experience students are already receiving by creating a lab similar to trading floors of major financial institutions, says the alumnus. They will be able to watch changes in the stock market while they research companies and analyze the latest stock quotes, options and exchange-traded funds.
"The space will mirror the real world of an investment management operation with real-time experiential learning," Van Harte notes. "By endowing this program with a larger gift, we will be able to double the number of the students involved with the program, have dedicated facilities and, long term, the program will pay for itself with distributions from the endowment. It will be something the students, faculty and the business community can count on."
Says Anil Puri, dean of Mihaylo College: "The planned lab will have several state-ofthe- art Bloomberg terminals that provide current financial information for use by students and faculty. The space also will house a special seminar room so students can work together."
Van Harte's gift, adds Puri, also will help expand the current offering in equity analysis to the bond markets and then to other asset classes. "It will thus grow the scope of our investment analysis program and, we expect, make it a nationally recognized lab for such research and training."
"The students, faculty and board members that touch this program will be responsible for making consistent distributions to help pay for the program," adds Van Harte. "That tight alignment of interests means everyone is taking their game up, so to speak, and makes the classroom experience all the more relevant."