When senior Stephen Laszcyk was a freshman, he found himself searching for a way to connect with and learn from upperclassmen who shared his interest in finance.
Laszcyk found that avenue in Portfolio Management Group, a student-run investment group in the Robins School of Business. But after participating in the group for four years, becoming its president and helping increase its membership from around five people to nearly 70, Laszcyk once again found himself looking for a group that would better meet his needs, and the needs of students like him.
With this growth in mind, Laszcyk and the executive team of PMG formed a new group called Gateway Capital Partners, which is a more exclusive version of PMG that will manage a hedge fund as PMG did, but will require an application to join.
However, with PMG folding and GCP instituting a rigorous application and interview process, some students took to the Internet to voice their anger at these changes.
“WTF PMG? Seriously a $500-$2000 minimum? Who the [heck] other than a rich kid whose dad work’s on Wall Street is gonna make it through your interview process and financial contribution? … You had a good thing going for you, if you want to make it more exclusive, require attendance, not $2000 and an interview,”[sic] one Facebook user posted on the Richmond Confessions page.
Another user wrote, “Your elitist club goes against everything this university stands for.”
Laszcyk believed this criticism was misguided, because though an interview and 100 percent attendance would be required to be a part of the new group, it would not be limited to affluent students, he said.
“I’ve read some of those posts and some of them say [PMG is] the elitist rich kids whose daddies work on Wall Street, and I myself didn’t come from that, my parents don’t work on Wall Street.” Laszcyk said. “The whole reason I felt so strongly about starting this organization is to give kids who don’t have those connections an ability to network with alumni and upperclassmen because that’s how I ended up getting my job.”
Freshman Madison Price, who was chosen along with seven other students from 53 applicants to join GCP, said a $500 minimum investment had been set in the contract he signed to come on board with GCP.
He did not believe the ability to pay the minimum was a factor in his selection as part of the group, though, because he was never asked how much money he could contribute during the interview process. GCP leadership also made it known to the new members that if they could not afford the $500 investment, the group would assist them, Price said.
Because he is an underclassman, Price will be involved in the development of the Finance Society, which will be an education-focused group rather than a networking and investment-focused group as GCP will be.
Some of the criticism of folding PMG was that students who are interested in finance would no longer have a resource outside the classroom to pursue that interest. The Finance Society will fill the educational role PMG had, Price said, and it will be 100 percent inclusive.
“We’re creating the Finance Society because we understand there needs to be a group for students like PMG where they can learn,” Price said.
Frank Allen, associate director of career services and adviser to PMG and GCP, understood why students who were involved in PMG felt like they were being kicked out of the group after the implementation of the application process for GCP, he said.
“I can understand that, but my comment would be, if that’s an issue for you and if this is something you want to continue to pursue, then be an active part in the Finance Society, and you can do the same things through that group,” Allen said.
The newly initiated partners of GCP will create a finance-based curriculum for the members of the Finance Society, go to all of their meetings and help them manage a virtual portfolio, Price said. The Finance Society will also serve as the main recruiting pool for GCP.
With two separate groups, Laszcyk believed the needs of each level of finance student would be better met because PMG had outgrown its ability to serve the number of members it had accumulated, he said.
“With the bigger group it was a little sporadic,” Laszcyk said. “The people who knew a lot about finance weren’t really learning anything, and the people who didn’t know much, sometimes we would talk over their head, and they weren’t really understanding.”
His idea with creating GCP was to help the students with a strong basis of knowledge learn about more complex facets of the finance industry, while giving the less knowledgeable students an opportunity to learn through the Finance Society, he said.
As a graduating senior who has been hired by Goldman Sachs, Laszcyk will serve on the advisory board for his newly created group, and will help oversee its implementation in the coming years.
“I’m really excited and nervous at the same time,” Laszcyk said. “I’ve been a member of PMG since my freshman year. It was a little bittersweet to see the drastic changes made, but I’m excited to see the potential this new organization has in terms of finance recruiting at the university. Hopefully it makes an impact at the business school.”
Contact staff writer Erin Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org