Title: Head of Municipal Credit Research
Firm: Columbia Threadneedle Investments
Matthew Stephan had already mastered the learning curve as Columbia Threadneedle Investments' head of municipal credit research, a position he has held since December 2018.
He drew on that when COVID-19 hit.
Matthew quickly assembled his team virtually through daily meetings and impromptu check-ins as the markets seized.
“We were entering an unprecedented health situation and an unprecedented credit situation,” Matthew, 34, said from Boston. “People were transitioning to working at home. We also had to identify sectors and credits within those sectors we were concerned about.”
With offices in Boston and Minneapolis, the firm had a leg up on remote collaboration.
Matthew’s team quickly reacted to reports from portfolio managers to assess credits in the secondary market.
“Nothing can prepare you for that,” said Catherine Stienstra, head of municipal investments. “Matt’s collaboration is amazing — he’s very articulate and inclusive.”
A native of Bethpage, New York, he majored in finance at Williams College and earned his master’s degree, also in finance, from the Boston University School of Management.
A chance meeting with Steve Murphy, then the head of U.S. public finance at S&P Global Ratings, helped shape Matthew’s career. A summer internship in New York preceded three years as a muni bond credit analyst at S&P. He also worked for a year at Boston-based Analysis Group.
He joined what was then Columbia Management Group in 2012 as a senior analyst in tax-exempt fixed income research.
Matthew, a Williams College wrestler, is also a founding board member and treasurer of the nonprofit Boston Youth Wrestling, which serves marginalized youths. “It’s much more than a wrestling program,” he said, citing mentorships, motivational speakers and an emphasis on better school attendance and behavior.
During the pandemic, the group converted its headquarters in the city's Roxbury neighborhood to a food distribution and pantry site.
Matthew is also active with the Boston Municipal Analyst Forum.