When Jericho Cezar arrived at Cal State Fullerton as a freshman, he knew he wanted to study investing.
“You have to evaluate what the market is pricing into a stock, understand all aspects of the business model to connect them to your own valuation, remain disciplined so you buy at the right price, and constantly re-evaluate your analysis with every piece of new information,” he said. “I love the challenge.”
What solidified Cezar’s passion for investing was taking Cal State Fullerton’s “Student Managed Investment Fund” course, in which students manage a $100,000 portfolio. The experience showed him how a strong investment process creates value and positioned him to be selected as team captain of Cal State Fullerton’s Titan Capital Management team.
The four members of Titan Capital Management recently returned from Washington, D.C., where they competed in the CFA Institute Research Challenge, one of the most prestigious investment competitions in the world. Although not named the global champion (that honor went to the University of Sydney), the team ranks as one of the six best teams in the world.
The CSUF team, consisting of Class of 2023 graduating seniors Cezar, Sam Fedrow, Jacquelyn George and MBA student Brandon Leon, challenged against other high-ranking finance student teams in researching, analyzing and valuing a publicly traded company. They presented their findings before a panel of industry professionals.
“I am beyond proud of how Jericho, Jacquelyn, Sam and Brandon competed against the other regional champions,” said Kelly Ko, Cal State Fullerton lecturer in finance and equity director of Titan Capital Management program. “The team’s demonstration on the big stage, in front of international judges and audience members, was outstanding. This is an experience they will remember all their lives.”
After graduation, Cezar will begin a month of training this summer before he hits the desk as a private credit analyst with Goldman Sachs. He admits that he never expected the team to advance so far in the competition.
“Titan Capital Management helped me become a better investor due to the rigor of the program and the mentorship that we received from the board and faculty directors,” said Cezar.
“Historically, CSUF has only reached the local round (first round), so making it all the way to the finals was a welcome surprise. Throughout the entire competition, our team just took it one round at a time and I think that was a strong contributor to our success. We just focused on the round that we were in.”
Cezar also credits the team’s adviser for helping them stay focused at every level of competition and attending meetings on campus, virtually, early in the morning or late at night.
“Kelly was a great model for teaching us how to think through problems like experienced investment analysts,” said Cezar. “Throughout the entire process, we collected copious amounts of information and data, most of which was noise. Our adviser kept us focused on the areas that were most impactful for our thesis and made sure we maintained discipline throughout the entire process.”
Teammates George, Leon and Fedrow agree the experience played a significant role in their education and gave them a competitive edge as they enter the workforce.
“It’s still hard to process that we are among the top 6 in the entire world,” said George, who will work for Canterbury Consulting in Newport Beach post-graduation. “Seeing all the knowledge and confidence my team and I have gained is immeasurable.”
“The competition was easily the highlight of my academic career, and even though it was a long and often tiring process, I would go back and do it all again if I could,” said Sam Fedrow. “The trip to D.C. was memorable and felt like a great culmination to a year’s worth of hard work. I am so proud of the whole team and look forward to staying in touch with all of them.”
“I wanted to be on the Titan Capital Management team because I knew I would receive in-depth knowledge and hands-on mentoring,” said Leon, a private equity intern at El Toro Capital Management. “I wanted to get into equity research and eventually, portfolio management. There was no better opportunity than participating in this competition.”