This is great, one good story leading to another. Ryan Hughes ’14 was helping write the Doug Longo ’14 Tribute two weeks ago when he updated me on his latest development– the launching of Bull Oak Capital. Ryan’s inspiring story is one of taking full advantage of the opportunity of Anderson.
Ryan: Dylan, I wanted to take you up on your offer to blog about students. I have a pretty great FEMBA story and it should inspire some hopeful and current students.
Dylan: I love it. It would be great to write about your experience. Let’s go.
Ryan: OK. Well, I recently completed my final quarter as a FEMBA student and I just launched Bull Oak Capital (as in, 2 days ago). Within a 2 week period, I finished my MBA, moved to San Diego, and launched the firm. I am married and we have 2 kids, so this is no easy task. But so far so good!
Dylan: Starting your own firm? Fantastic! Tell me about the back story. How’d this happen?
Ryan: We’d have to start with quitting my job to accept an internship.
When I started at Anderson, I quickly realized that there were a lot of opportunities available. The first opportunity I saw was the Cornell stock-pitch competition. This is a major global competition and there were plenty of UCLA students who wanted to go. As a result, Anderson held an internal competition to see who would represent the school. I put together a team and we actually did very well and won the competition. The prize was a guaranteed 2nd round interview for a summer internship at Wedbush Equity Research. I interviewed and was offered a 10-week summer internship. At the time, I was working at Charles Schwab so I had to make the difficult decision whether or not to quit my job to accept the internship. My wife was staying home taking care of our two kids, who were 8-months old and 3 years old at the time. It was a very precarious situation. However, opportunities like this do not come often and the main reason why I decided to attend Anderson was to have the chance to see opportunities such as this.
I took the internship and as it was nearing, a position opened up and I was offered a full-time Associate job, effective immediately. This would’ve been a great post-MBA job. In fact, there were more than a few Anderson alumni there! However, the position would require at least 70 hours per week, not to mention longer hours during company quarterly earnings. While it was a great experience, it wasn’t worth the sacrifice. It would’ve pulled too much time away from my family and from the FEMBA experience. So, I respectfully declined the offer and it turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Dylan: So you’ve quit your job. You’ve done an internship, but respectfully declined a full-time offer. You’re making bold choices. What happened next?
Ryan: Bold? Crazy? Maybe a little of both. I’d call the next chapter From Mr.-Corporate-Father to Stay-At-Home-Dad-and-Student.
After the internship, my wife was lucky enough to return to her previous job. Therefore, I transitioned from corporate-father to stay-at-home father. I embraced becoming a SAHMBA (Stay-At-Home MBA) student and got to spend 18 quality months with my kids. This is very different from being a FUMBA (Fully-Unemployed MBA) student as I spent most of my time juggling the responsibilities of taking care of my kids and studying for class. It’s not easy studying for a final while your kids are crying or you are changing diaper. Believe me, this was much more difficult than I anticipated. Much respect to the stay-at-home mothers.
Staying at home had its benefits. It allowed me to take a step back and figure out exactly what I wanted to do with my life. There was no question in my mind that I wanted to stay in finance and in investments. But at the time, I had to do some soul-searching before I figured out that I wanted to start my own investment management firm. I needed to strengthen my quantitative finance skills if I was going to make this happen.
I accelerated my courses by enrolling in ASAM (Anderson Student Asset Management) and by engaging in a research project under Professor Hanno Lustig, who teaches Security Analysis and Investment Management and is the director of the Masters of Financial Engineering program. I also worked with several other students and faculty members, including Assistant Professor Jason Hsu the CIO at Research Affiliates.This additional course load allowed me to graduate early and get a jump start on Bull Oak Capital.
While doing all of this, I was also in GAP [The Global Access Program, FEMBA’s Master’s Thesis], which, in itself is a lot of work. Our team performed extremely well and I’m happy to say that I will be back next year mentoring the 2015s as a GAP Fellow! By the way, I don’t recommend anybody undertaking a research project of this size while in GAP. If you don’t sleep at night, you might be able to find enough time. I was honestly only able to achieve all of this by sacrificing an obscene amount of sleep. Additionally, my wife is the unsung hero in all of this. She picked up a lot of the slack, which made all of this possible.
Dylan: Thanks for the reality check. I want our readers to see the effort you put into creating your firm. And you created a new acronym, SAHMBA. I love it. So this gets us to Bull Oak Capital?
Ryan: Yes. The final chapter is The Creation of Bull Oak Capital
After I completed the research project and developed the investment strategy, which took about a year, the results were too good not to move forward. Professor Lustig highly suggested that I write a whitepaper and publish my results. After 17 revisions of the whitepaper and feedback from fellow students and friends, I posted it on my website, open to the world to see www.bulloakcapital.com/investment-strategy/whitepaper.
I just officially launched Bull Oak Capital this month. The firm is a registered Investment Adviser that provides professional investment advice for professionals, retirees, and institutional clients. I recommend that if anybody is interested, check out my website and learn more about the strategy: www.bulloakcapital.com. We are obviously brand new and I am open to all different types of clients. So far, the Anderson community has been very supportive. In fact, I have quite a number of students and even a professor who said they are interested in investing!
Dylan: Thank you for the story Ryan. You put in the effort and you’re taking the risk. You are going to inspire more than a few people. Let’s plan on a table for you at FEMBApalooza, in the Zone. Will you keep us posted going forward?
Ryan: Will do!
Post Script: I’d like to thank Ryan, for the great effort he’s put into FEMBA and into creating Bull Oak Capital, without which we’d have no story.
I’d also like to thank my co-author, my son Jackson, on his spring break with me at UCLA yesterday at the Kerckhoff coffee house. He patiently built Legos while Daddy blogged.He actually had a blast, in spite of his expression in the photo. Hot chocolate and Legos, what could be better?