Money management

Best Places to Work Winner: Modera

Westwood, N.J. | Founded in 1983 | 30 employees | Ranks 3rd among firms with fewer than 100 employees

The principals at Modera Wealth Management LLC do not take much stock in formal titles or job descriptions. Tom Orecchio, for example, is Modera's CEO, but prefers the title of principal and wealth manager.

“We think that adds to the atmosphere,” Mr. Orecchio said of the flat organization structure. “When there's hierarchy, people are afraid to knock on doors. We have a very open environment and we like that entrepreneurial feel.”

Employees filling out Pensions & Investments' survey on Best Places to Work in Money Management often referenced “flexibility” as the single-best feature of working at Modera, whether it pertains to job description, specific hours or working at home around family situations.

“We want our employees to have flexibility in the way they conduct their work,” Mr. Orecchio said. “We want them to think of their own job as their own company.”

Several of the Modera employees don't come from a financial background, because the hiring process consists of finding the right person. Greg Plechner, principal and wealth manager and head of investments and human resources, said he will spend 5% to 10% of every week interviewing people, looking at resumes for career progression and desire.

Mr. Orecchio said Modera always looks to hire intellect and motivation, two attributes that cannot be taught.

One employee said the best part of working at Modera is the “supportive environment that values integrity and doing the best for clients and employees; career opportunities to take advantage of individual staff members' strengths and interests.”

Modera will often hold biweekly meetings for a six-month stretch where an employee is assigned a specific topic, such as 529 plans, to become the in-house expert and teach the rest of the staff.

The firm pays 100% of continuing education costs for necessary designations and splits the costs with employees who want to advance their education on their own.

“I think we're pretty generous in how we treat continuing education,” Mr. Orecchio said.

A mentoring program allows employees to team up with a senior executive as they work their way up from analyst, Mr. Plechner said.

“A low turnover is a huge benefit to an organization like ours because of the consistency of the client experience,” Mr. Plechner said.

Communication and collaboration between offices in New Jersey and Boston are done through Skype, instant messaging and video conferences. New Jersey houses the technology and back office, while most of the client-facing services are in Boston.

The entire firm typically has two out-of-office retreats each year and daylong events such as white water rafting, baseball games, Broadway plays and dinner cruises. Last year, the firm spent a three-day retreat at the Equinox Resort & Spa in Manchester, Vt.

Many of the firm's events are planned by the “fun committee.” The retreats are used to review business initiatives and give employees a chance to talk about what they want to accomplish at Modera.

“For us, that's always been a huge benefit,” Mr. Plechner said.