ASAP Program Helps Mihaylo Students Prepare for Investment Careers

Mihaylo ASAP students at the New York Stock Exchange. The program tasks students with managing an actual investment portfolio and provides professional development opportunities, such as this trip to New York City.

Mihaylo ASAP students at the New York Stock Exchange. The program tasks students with managing an actual investment portfolio and provides professional development opportunities, such as this trip to New York City.

The two-semester Applied Securities Analysis Program (ASAP) lets finance students manage an actual investment portfolio, giving them the skills required to work for the world’s leading financial firms. Mihaylo Finance Lecturers Michael Milligan and Marcia Clark discuss the future of the program, the new trading lab coming this spring and the program’s impact on students.

D.A. Davidson & Co., Edward Jones, Goldman Sachs, Green Street Advisors, PIMCO and State Street Bank are some of the finance firms employing recent Mihaylo alumni who have completed the ASAP program. They seek the talent that ASAP experience provides. “Employers throughout the western U.S. are supportive of this program, as they are seeking talented students ready to make a career in asset management,” says Finance Lecturer and ASAP Director Marcia Clark. “Because there are very few investment programs similar to ASAP on the West Coast, qualified graduates are in high demand from the top local and regional employers.”

“The program is a hands-on experience in managing money in the equity and bond markets,” says Mihaylo Finance Lecturer and ASAP Managing Director Michael Milligan. “Students get to experience what it is like to develop an investment idea and analyze the security to try to determine whether the investment makes sense in the portfolio. Many of the things the students do is just like what will be asked of them if they choose a career in portfolio management, investment banking or security analysis.”

During last academic year, the ASAP program helped eight students find employment at financial firms, while seven received scholarships to help them further their academic objectives. The program provided $7,500 to the Mihaylo Tutoring Center from its investment returns, the largest donation to date.

Getting on Board with ASAP

Each spring, the ASAP program accepts applications from finance students, who must pass prerequisites, be in good academic standing and complete an interview with Clark or Milligan. The program is currently limited to a maximum of 21 students in each academic year. Those accepted take two courses: FIN 442 – Advanced Investment Analysis I in fall and FIN 443 – Advanced Investment Analysis II in spring.

Clark and Milligan have high hopes for the ASAP program in the future. “We would like to double the number of applications and build the rigor of the program to rival any university, public or private, on the West Coast,” says Clark.

Mihaylo Finance Lecturer Marcia Clark says students need applied experience to succeed in the finance industry. “The keys to success in business are good judgment and adaptability, and the only way to become adept navigating unexpected environments is to participate in a hands-on, real-world experience such as ASAP or an internship.”

Mihaylo Finance Lecturer Marcia Clark says students need applied experience to succeed in the finance industry. “The keys to success in business are good judgment and adaptability, and the only way to become adept navigating unexpected environments is to participate in a hands-on, real-world experience such as ASAP or an internship.”

Getting Up to Industry Standards

Beginning this spring, ASAP’s Titan Capital Management trading lab will provide students with market data in real time from Bloomberg terminals, which will be installed in the classroom and seminar space. “Bloomberg is the industry standard source for market data to support portfolio managers, especially in fixed income in which market data is less public than stock data,” says Clark. “Students can use the Bloomberg terminals to run their portfolios through risk analyses, performance attribution and ‘what if’ scenarios to ensure each portfolio achieves the maximum available return with an appropriate level of risk.”

The benefits of the state-of-the-art trading lab will reach beyond the ASAP program. Other Mihaylo finance faculty will be able to integrate applied investment projects into their courses. Beginning this spring, each section of FIN 340 – Introduction to Investments will include an investment project using the Bloomberg terminals.

“Our expectation is that access to real-time market dynamics will spark the interest of students to study finance with more depth and passion as they earn their bachelor’s degree,” says Clark.

ASAP students visited Edward Jones Investments in Tempe, Arizona earlier this year.

ASAP students visited Edward Jones Investments in Tempe, Arizona earlier this year.

Planning a Career in Finance?

Clark says that for students planning a finance career, applied experience is a must. “Following directions and studying textbooks can help students earn good grades on papers and exams, but does not go very far in preparing students for careers in the ever-changing world of finance,” she says. “The keys to success in business are good judgment and adaptability, and the only way to become adept navigating unexpected environments is to participate in a hands-on, real-world experience such as ASAP or an internship. Students should actively seek out any opportunity to see, touch and feel the environment of financial management, with all its complexity and lack of set rules, well before they start applying for that first career job upon graduation.”

For More Information

For more on the ASAP program, contact Michael Milligan at mmilligan@fullerton.edu or director Marcia Clark at mclark@fullerton.edu. For more on the college’s finance program, visit the Department of Finance at SGMH 5113 or call 657-278-2217.

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I'm Daniel Coats, a CSU Fullerton Communications graduate student
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