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Before the dynamic duo began their careers in finance, Fidel and Arturo Aguayo had to fight through many challenges.
In their formative years, they fought against peer pressure that permeated their Long Beach, California, neighborhood, which was rife with gangs, drugs, and a lack of positive role models. As they pursued their finance careers, they fought to get a foot in the door at investment banks that generally recruited from top tier business schools. Once they fought their way into the industry, they competed and went toe-to-toe against seasoned bankers from Wall Street.
The odds appeared stacked against them each step of the way, but that didn’t stop them from becoming the leaders they are today, with Fidel serving as treasurer at Loyola Marymount University (LMU) and Arturo as assistant treasurer at California Institute of Technology (Caltech).
That’s because they’ve always had something none of the industry gatekeepers, competitors, or doubters did: each other.
“We’ve always challenged each other, brainstormed and strategized,” Arturo says. “One of the things we have always done that’s been instrumental to our success is being each other’s hardest critic and holding each other accountable.”
Career Advice from Fidel Aguayo
“Our parents always said, ‘whatever you become, make sure you’re the best,’ that’s my advice to young people. When you’re the best at what you do, opportunities will present themselves.”
The brothers agree that their iron-sharpens-iron relationship started with their hardworking, Latino-immigrant parents, who focused on shielding the boys from negativity in their neighborhood.
“In our community, we dealt with a lack of financial resources, education, and positive role models,” Fidel says. “What helped us overcome these limitations were our parents. Our parents were fighters. They fought to come to this country, fought to provide for us, and fought to give us a better life.”
Needless to say, that fighting spirit stuck with the brothers as they made their way through their career paths. Their journeys began in 1998 as they applied for a state-funded program geared toward at-risk youth. As a result, Arturo went on to work for the City of Long Beach treasurer’s office, where he was exposed to treasury, and the city’s multibillion-dollar debt, cash, and investment programs.
Fidel, who went on to work for the city’s park and recreation department, was inspired by the stories Arturo would share about his work. That was a catalyst for Fidel to make his way to the budget and accounting division in his department. By 2000, Fidel had become a budget analyst for the city.
As the brothers continued honing their finance knowledge while juggling full-time jobs and college coursework, they worked together to figure out how to break into the securities industry. They quickly learned that it wouldn’t be easy.
“When interviewing and talking to industry professionals, we were often told that we did not have the pedigree or fit the profile,” Fidel says.
But they didn’t give up. In addition to their raw passion and hunger to succeed, the pair had mentors who helped steer them in the right direction, introduced them to investment banks, and provided access to their networks. Those efforts led to Fidel and Arturo securing finance positions with boutique investment banks.
Career Advice from Arturo Aguayo
“Early in our careers, we were often rejected by potential employers and clients. We felt like we were losing, but later in our careers realized that we were learning how to win. As long as you are learning, everything you do is a steppingstone to your success. My advice, take the hits and push forward. Be patient and you will end up where you belong.”
After serving as an investment banker for nearly ten years, Fidel transitioned to city government. Ultimately, returning to the City of Long Beach to serve as treasurer, coincidentally, leading the same office his brother began his career eighteen years earlier. While at the City, Fidel financed over $1 billion of capital projects including the expansion of the Aquarium of the Pacific, the Queen Mary infrastructure improvements, and the Long Beach International Gateway Bridge.
Arturo went on to serve as a financial consultant, a VP of investment banking, and then as a director of treasury at the University of Southern California (USC). At USC, he financed the $725 million village project, the single largest development in the university’s history. In 2019, Arturo joined Caltech, where he led the issuance of a $500 million century bond. At the time, Caltech was one of the few institutions to issue a hundred-year bond.
Their career journeys continued to intersect in interesting ways when both brothers came to take on positions in higher education. Today, Fidel is excited to develop LMU’s long-term financial plan that will guide the university’s capital spending. He is also working on a podcast series that focuses on responsible investing and environment, social, and governance (ESG) factors. While Arturo is currently leading negotiations on behalf of Caltech for eight lines of credit with six different banks, totaling $500 million.
As the Aguayo brothers continue their professional journeys, they look forward to standing in each other’s corner and rising above anything life throws at them.
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