Five Cal State Fullerton students at the Titan Capital Management program at the Los Angeles local competition.

Students in the Titan Capital Management program at the Los Angeles local competition in February 2020.

Cal State Fullerton finance students in the Titan Capital Management (TCM) applied stock and bond portfolio program took the top spot at the Chartered Financial Analysts (CFA) Society Los Angeles local competition in February and are now headed to the Americas level round on April 21.

Originally scheduled to take place in New York City, the national round will now occur by video conference, in light of the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

The competition involves detailed research on a target company, including assessments of economic and industry conditions, financial analysis and forecasting, organizational structure review, and risks. Over a span of three months, the students wrote an extensive investment research report on the target company, and then presented their findings to a panel of professional judges, who are CFA charterholders and industry practitioners.

As the competition simulates real-world stock market experience, it is the perfect avenue for students to perfect their investment research and presentation skills.

Members of the winning team were Alex Medina ’20, Ali Abdelkarim ’20, Phillip Law ’20, Mohammed Almatari ’21 and Minh-Tu Nguyen Le ’20. The target company was Avery Dennison, a Glendale, California-based adhesive manufacturing company.

The national competition will feature 55 other regional competition winners divided into western and eastern U.S. categories, and if the Mihaylo team advances at the Americas round, they would compete in the global round the following day.

Professional judges evaluate students as they present at the CFA Society Los Angeles competition.

Cal State Fullerton students present at the CFA Society Los Angeles competition in February.

A Dedicated Student Team Rises to the Challenge

“The CFA Institute is very strict on guidelines, allowing the team members only one faculty advisor and one professional mentor that they assign,” says Kelly Ko, a Cal State Fullerton finance lecturer teaching in the TCM program, who is coaching this year’s team in the competition, along with their CFA mentor, Matthew Nussbaum of L&S Advisors. Both are chartered financial analysts and industry practitioners.

“Other students may critique their presentations, but they are not allowed to have anyone else work on the reports or the presentations. They also cannot access any outside professionals at investment firms or speak to company management after the initial conference call. The advisor and mentor may provide guidance, coaching and direction on the report and presentation, but all of the end product work is that of the students on the team.”

Members of TCM (formerly known as the Applied Security Analysis Program), have participated in the Orange County version of this research challenge in seven of the past eight years but had never taken the top spot.

“This year, we were informed we could only send one team to one local competition, and we chose to participate in the CFALA competition as it would give the students the opportunity to compete against schools such as USC, Pepperdine, Claremont and Loyola, which our students don’t normally compete against,” says Ko. “There is also the motivation to show your work and prove that you’re just as good as any of the other teams there, which means a competitive but collegial aspect that brings out the best in students.”

Ko speaks of the dedication and commitment of each member of the TCM team:

“If you watched this team from the very beginning, you’d know they were all going to work and do whatever it took collectively as a team to get it done. They all have exceptional skills, but some are better at some things than others, and it was that chemistry that really made it work.  Everyone committed the time and did whatever was needed, including long hours over the holiday break. There are no egos on this team; they are all humble, hard-working, great students with incredible abilities and skills – and it was evident not only in the presentation but in how they interact with their colleagues in the program and the students who participated from the other schools.

“These are the qualities of all of our students and how we’d like prospective employers, the investment community, as well as students and faculty from other schools to recognize us!”

For More Information

The Mihaylo College Titan Capital Management program, which equips high-achieving finance students to manage real-world stock and bond investment portfolios, offers an applied introduction to the field.