Matt Romeo initially went to Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University to become an expert in real estate development, but when that market tanked, he looked around for another career. A finance professor described the school's top-notch financial planning program and he soon was hooked.
Mr. Romeo's parents lost a large portion of their savings when the market tumbled during the 2008 recession, and he was intrigued by the idea that he could have prevented such losses.
“I really would like to help other people get through experiences like that,” he said.
Mr. Romeo begins working with Gordon Asset Management in Durham, N.C., today as part of the firm's two-year apprenticeship program. It is designed to help aspiring advisers attain their certifications and learn all aspects of the business.
“It's very attractive to someone coming out of school like me, because I'm not exactly sure of what I want to do,” Mr. Romeo said. “I really like the idea of learning every aspect and then in two years being able to be client-facing.”
Mr. Romeo will begin with Gordon Asset Management on the investment team, and he hopes to sit for the certified financial planner credential within the year. Then he intends to work toward being designated a certified investment management analyst and an accredited investment fiduciary.
Mr. Romeo, who is from Midlothian, Va., has had two internships with small registered investment advisers and thinks that his practical experience, combined with the technical knowledge and education he attained, has prepared him for this position.
The firm interviewed on campus for the position, but he hadn't planned to meet with it until he heard one of its advisers speak.
“After the meeting, I begged them for an interview,” Mr. Romeo said.
He borrowed a suit, and the firm squeezed him into its schedule.
Mr. Romeo was attracted to the firm's young culture, where the firm's youngest partner is just 35 and most employees are under that age.
“A firm willing to make you a partner is telling you they really value you,” Mr. Romeo said.
He looks forward to learning more about portfolio construction and taxes, recognizing how important tax considerations are to investment decisions.
Mr. Romeo originally thought that he might want to start his own advisory firm, as his father is an entrepreneur.
“I've learned about the industry over the last few years, including that the real opportunity for independence and growth is within a firm like this,” he said.
Mr. Romeo hopes to remain at Gordon Management for many years.
“I don't anticipate jumping jobs,” he said.