It may have been nail-biting time for Cal State Fullerton business administration-finance majors but they ably showed they were on top of their game, taking top honors during a Nov. 30 competition sponsored by the Chartered Financial Analyst Society of Orange County (CFA Society Orange County).
The reward? The opportunity to manage a $80,000 portion of the local organization’s investment portfolio.
The students, enrolled in the university’s Student Management Investment Fund (SMIF) course, went head to head against five other teams from the Southern California area, first submitting a written proposal, followed by an oral presentation on their stock and bond selection criteria and performance analysis, explained Marcia Clark, lecturer in finance and director of the Titan Capital Management program, a hands-on investment management practicum. Evaluation was by a panel of industry professionals.
“It was nerve wracking and exciting at the same time,” said senior Vivian Tang of her first competition experience. Describing herself as a person who doesn’t often like to try new things, she says she pushed herself.
“I couldn’t have done it without the hands-on experience I got as part of SMIF,” Tang explained, noting the weeks of research and discussions they had in the class before the formation of the team and final job tasks were assigned. “When we were presenting, I thought back to what we had discussed and how much of what I learned applied to the competition, to the real world. I had such a good feeling about being there and being a part of it all.”
Fellow senior George Uriarte, who wrote the equities portion of the presentation, agreed. “Every step of the way, every decision we made was challenged right up to the mock up before Professor Clark.
“We had to prove to the judges that the organization could trust us with their portfolio,” said Uriarte. “Part of that is showing that we understand the client’s financial needs, their philosophy on investments and that we had considered what assets or fixed income they would feel comfortable with as part of their portfolio.
“We learned so much,” he added. “Especially how very important it was to say the right things, not just what sounds great. This was a contest in which we had to behave as if we were managing real money and everything we said had to be true, on solid ground and support the case we were making.”
“I recorded myself and listened to my presentation on my drive to school, at work,” added Uriarte. “And I remembered I had to do well, not just for myself, but my team and my school.”
“I knew I had to put myself into this uncomfortable situation to truly know what I can achieve,” said Tang. “This was a great learning experience and it adds value to me as an individual and future professional.”
The Student Management Investment Fund (SMIF) course is one of two courses that makes up the Titan Capital Management program. “This is a robust educational program that prepares students for careers in asset management,” notes Clark. “Competitions like the recent CFA Society Orange County contest enhance student learning as a practical real-world exercise.
“Companies seek graduates with good decision-making skills, who use logic and reasoning often with imperfect information to reach logical conclusions. This program does that.”