'This is real money'

Sep 29, 2013 @ 12:01 am

By Liz Skinner

Matt Romeo: On-the-job experience trumps what he learned in class.
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Matt Romeo: On-the-job experience trumps what he learned in class. (Rabiah Khwaja Gohar)

Even though he had to borrow a suit for his interview with Gordon Asset Management LLC in Durham, N.C., last spring, Matt Romeo said after three months on the job, the firm is a “perfect fit.”

Mr. Romeo, 22, moved to Durham over the summer to begin a two-year apprenticeship that's meant to help young advisers learn about the business and earn their certifications. The graduate of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University's financial planning program said he is learning a lot about the money management segment of planning.

“I am seeing the investment management piece up close and personal,” Mr. Romeo said. “I'm doing a lot with analytics, going to fund manager meetings and presentations, and doing other things that are incredibly interesting and are not what I had experienced before” at school or through internships.

He especially enjoys creating portfolios based on the risk tolerance of real clients.

“That's not something you get exposed to a lot in class,” he said. “This is real money.”

Mr. Romeo said the firm has made him feel welcome and helped him acclimate to the area. He said the advisers at the firm appreciate how quickly he has picked up the technology.

For example, the client management system that Gordon Asset Management uses, Mr. Romeo already had used in school and in previous positions, he said.

The biggest surprise has been the wide-ranging due diligence conducted by the firm's asset managers, he said.

Mr. Romeo in the coming year will focus on attaining industry credentials. He plans to take the Series 65 exam soon and the certified financial planner exam in March or June.

He's also “giving more thought” to the chartered financial analyst designation, he said.

Mr. Romeo said he is challenged every day at the firm and recognizes the huge learning curve in this profession.

“I love that these guys see something in me and want to challenge me because they think I have potential,” he said. “There is no better time to learn than when things are at their most chaotic.”

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