SMC Fixed Income Management (SMC FIM) is a municipal bond advisor and manager that provides customized municipal portfolios for individuals, trusts and estates through its Separately Managed Account Program, and provides advisory services to Unit Investment Trusts. SMC FIM offers a diverse line of municipal separate account strategies that cover a broad range of risk profiles.
Located in West Windsor, New Jersey, SMC FIM was formed in 2006 and is a division of Spring Mountain Capital, LP. Spring Mountain Capital is a private investment management firm that offers a wide range of traditional and alternative investment strategies, including municipal investments. Spring Mountain Capital was founded in 2001 by John L. (Launny) Steffens, former Vice Chairman of Merrill Lynch and Co., Inc. and former Chairman of the U.S. Private Client Group at Merrill Lynch.
Our business model is based on the belief that a “one size fits all” approach is not optimal for fixed income investments. SMC FIM constructs individually tailored portfolios with the goal of satisfying varying client goals and income needs. An experienced team of investment professionals provides institutional quality portfolio management for municipal separately managed accounts by employing disciplined credit research and active management for each portfolio. SMC FIM believes this thorough process results in enhanced investment performance and quality client service.
The SMC FIM Advantage
Our investment professionals have an average of over 25 years of experience in the municipal asset class. Client portfolios are managed by a senior team of municipal market professionals.
The separately managed account structure provides the flexibility to comply with each client’s specific investment policy guidelines. Each of SMC FIM’s strategies can be tailored to meet individual client needs.
The municipal market is comprised of multiple sectors consisting of 80,000 issuers at both the state and local levels. SMC FIM believes providing diligent credit research is critical to enhancing value and preserving principal in this complex marketplace.
Active portfolio management
SMC FIM is unique in that portfolio management and trade execution are combined in a single portfolio manager role, which provides for real-time decisions based on credit analysis and market conditions. Additionally, SMC FIM maintains relationships with a large network of national and regional brokerage firms, providing access to institutional pricing, greater access to bond inventory and enhanced liquidity.
Michael J. Smith
Chief Investment Officer, Senior Portfolio Manager
John P. Pocceschi
SENIOR PORTFOLIO MANAGER
DIRECTOR OF MUNICIPAL RESEARCH
John “Launny” Steffens
SENIOR PORTFOLIO STRATEGIST
MANAGING DIRECTOR, GENERAL COUNSEL & CHIEF COMPLIANCE OFFICER
Michael V. Fraternale
DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS AND PORTFOLIO MANAGER
Michael J. Smith
Mr. Smith is a Senior Portfolio Manager and directs SMC FIM’s Separately Managed Account Program. He has over 20 years of experience in the municipal fixed income market, and has been involved in all facets of the separately managed account business including portfolio management, client servicing, accounting, performance reporting and trading. Mr. Smith has over 17 years of experience trading all sectors of municipal securities in all 50 states. Michael joined SMC FIM from U.S. Trust Company as Vice President on the municipal trading desk, where he was instrumental in the conversion of their electronic order entry and trading platform system for private banking clients. Prior to joining U.S. Trust Company, Mr. Smith was employed by Merrill Lynch Investment Managers as an Assistant Vice President, and bond trader for separately managed accounts. During this period, the assets of the privately managed accounts increased from $2 billion to over $6 billion. Mr. Smith received a B.S. in Accounting from Temple University. He is a member of the New York Society of Security Analyst
John P. Pocceschi
Mr. Pocceschi is a veteran fixed income municipal professional whose career spans over three decades. His experience and industry knowledge were developed primarily at national wirehouse firms in various fixed income product management and marketing positions. His expertise includes all aspects of portfolio creation, design, implementation and monitoring, including defining objectives, security selection, pricing/execution levels, risk/reward analysis and performance review. In addition, his experience includes both primary (new issues) oversight and secondary market trading strategies. Mr. Pocceschi joined SMC FIM after lengthy tenures at both Merrill Lynch (20 years) and UBS Financial Services (8 years). He received a B.S. in Business Administration (Minor in Marketing) from Kings College and received a Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA) Certification from the Investment and Wealth Institute.
As SMC FIM’s Director of Research, Mr. George evaluates sectors, performs credit analysis, undertakes research for a wide range of municipal credit issuers and structures, and determines suitability and fit for the firm’s client portfolios. Mr. George’s understanding and practical application of relevant credit, risk, and market analytics is based on over seventeen years of experience in the municipal fixed income market. In his previous roles he analyzed and rated local and state governments, foundations, public and private colleges and universities, human service providers, charter schools, and an assortment of non-profit entities. His career includes employment with three of the major bond rating agencies. Before joining SMC FIM, Mr. George served as a Director in the Public Finance Group at Fitch Ratings and at Kroll Bond Rating Agency, where he produced credit research and assigned ratings for various municipal sector credits. Mr. George began his municipal career with Standard and Poor’s Ratings in the Healthcare and Higher Education Group. His wide-ranging research career includes nine years of financial guaranty experience with Radian Asset Assurance spanning all municipal sectors, where he was responsible for credit underwriting and the surveillance of various sectors of the insured portfolio to minimize risk. Mr. George received an MBA from Baruch College and a B.A. in Accounting and Economics from Queens College, both of the City University of New York.
Mr. Bermingham joined SMC in 2017 as an Investment Specialist focused on business development efforts across all of the firm’s product lines. Prior to joining SMC, he served as a Managing Director of Pulteney Street Premier, developing a structured investment strategy for offshore deferred compensation of hedge fund general partners, and as Managing Partner of Ten Pine Advisors, advising companies on capital market strategies. Mr. Bermingham began his career at Merrill Lynch as a municipal bond specialist and has held senior roles at E.F. Hutton, Lehman Brothers, Thomas Weisel Partners, Spencer Trask Ventures, Jesup & Lamont Securities and Butler Capital involving both traditional and alternative assets. He received his B.A. in Economics from Hobart College.
John Launny Steffens
Mr. Steffens is the Founder and Senior Managing Director of Spring Mountain Capital, LP (“SMC”). In addition, he assists SMC FIM with portfolio management and strategy. Prior to founding SMC in 2001, Mr. Steffens spent 38 years at Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc., where he held numerous senior management positions, including President of Merrill Lynch Consumer Markets, Vice Chairman of Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc., and Chairman of its U.S. Private Client Group. Under his leadership, the Private Client Group experienced tremendous growth, increasing assets under management from $200 billion to $1.6 trillion. Mr. Steffens also served on the board of directors of Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc. from April 1986 until July 2001.
Mr. Steffens currently serves on the board of directors of Colony Capital, Inc. (NYSE: CLNY) and as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Cicero, Inc. He also serves on the advisory boards of StarVest Partners and Wicks Communication & Media Partners, L.P. In addition, he is currently National Chairman Emeritus of the Alliance for Aging Research. Previously, Mr. Steffens served as Chairman of the Securities Industry Association (now the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, or SIFMA), as a Trustee of the Committee for Economic Development, and as a member of the Board of Overseers of the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. In 2010, Mr. Steffens was the recipient of the Billie Jean King Contribution Award from the Women’s Sports Foundation. Mr. Steffens received a B.A. in Economics from Dartmouth College and also completed Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program.
Mr. Sandukas is a Managing Director and the General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer of SMC. Prior to joining SMC in 2012, he was a Director in the Legal Department at Ramius LLC (now Cowen Investment Management), an alternative investment management firm, where he served as a senior attorney responsible for structuring and negotiating investment-related transactions and overseeing other corporate matters on behalf of both Ramius and Cowen Group, Inc., Ramius’ parent company. From 2002 until joining Ramius in 2007, Mr. Sandukas was an associate in the Corporate Department of Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP. Mr. Sandukas received a J.D., cum laude, from Harvard Law School and a B.S., summa cum laude, in Biology from the University of Richmond. He is a member of the New York Bar.
Michael V. Fraternale
Mr. Fraternale is responsible for trade operations at SMC FIM and also serves as a municipal portfolio manager managing short-term cash positions. Mr. Fraternale has over 25 years of related experience. Prior to joining SMC FIM, Mr. Fraternale was an Assistant Vice President with Merrill Lynch Investment Managers’ tax-exempt department where he managed the short-term cash positions for 22 funds with assets of approximately $8 billion. He also assisted the operations department with the conversion of a new trading and compliance platform. Prior to joining Merrill Lynch, Mr. Fraternale was a fund accountant.
Our Disciplined Investment Process
Identify Client Objectives
Individual client objectives are reviewed and implemented throughout trade execution and portfolio management.
Economic Overview / Interest Rate Forecast
The investment team formulates a view on interest rates by analyzing the global economy, its effect on U.S. fixed income markets and then, more specifically, the impact on the municipal sector.
Optimize Yield Curve Exposure
Our portfolio management team reviews the shape of the yield curve and determines optimal risk/reward opportunities. This analysis results in a targeted maturity range to enhance performance for a given strategy.
Credit / Sector Analysis
Securities are reviewed and approved on the basis of fundamental credit analysis, including the review of:
Historical and currently available financial information
Debt service coverage and leverage calculations
Local area economy and demographics
Sector-specific industry risk and trend analyses
Select Securities & Execute Trades
Multiple security offerings are evaluated based on credit quality, relative value and the potential to enhance performance. Our research and portfolio management teams take a collaborative approach in security selection.
A separately managed account with flexibility tailored to the client’s investment policy statement, which may include: income targets, social concerns, maturity, duration, credit quality and state-specific objectives.
Municipal Cash Management
The objective of this strategy is to provide a high degree of liquidity and safety of principal by investing in a diversified portfolio of variable rate demand notes (VRDNs). The strategy seeks to achieve a higher rate of return compared to typical tax-exempt money market rates. The portfolio also provides a defensive position against rising rates. VRDNs utilized in this strategy have a one-day or seven-day demand feature (put option) which enables an investor to tender the securities at face value. VRDNs for this strategy will benefit from third-party credit and liquidity enhancements guaranteeing payment of principal and interest on tendered securities. The main types of credit enhancements include letters of credit and standby bond purchase agreements, both of which are provided by highly rated U.S. banks.
This strategy offers a diversified portfolio of investment grade municipal debt securities with an average maturity range of 6 to 12 years and an average duration of 4 to 7 years. The average portfolio credit rating is “A” and bonds subject to the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) are not utilized. Clients may choose state-specific portfolios. This strategy focuses on maximizing tax-exempt income and lowering interest rate volatility.
Municipal Opportunities Plus
This strategy offers a diversified portfolio of municipal debt securities with an average maturity range of 1 to 30 years and an average duration of 1 to 15 years. This investment strategy seeks total return by taking an opportunistic approach to the municipal market. The municipal sector is inefficient and there is dislocation in security pricing. SMC FIM believes this is an opportunity for clients to employ credit analysis with experienced portfolio management to find undervalued securities. Securities selected for this portfolio can include investment grade, non-investment grade and non-rated municipal issues. Active yield curve positioning is also a component of the strategy. The manager may select taxable or tax-exempt municipal securities in seeking total return opportunities. In addition, this portfolio will be highly flexible and can be structured to a risk profile of investment grade only, with a maximum maturity of 20 years and a duration limit of 10 years. The manager intends to employ an active approach to maximizing total return.
196 Princeton Hightstown Road, Suite 2A1 West Windsor, NJ 08550
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Exel- Frazzitta street no. 61, 44925 Kingston, Norfolk Island
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+23 274 947 142
Mon - Fri, 10:00-21:00