Our Team

Michael J. Smith

Chief Investment Officer, Senior Portfolio Manager

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 Analysts.

Paul Disdier

Senior Portfolio Manager and Strategist

Mr. Disdier has wide-ranging investment experience including managing open-end and closed-end mutual funds and separately managed accounts, providing global investment strategy, and conducting investment manager due diligence. Prior to joining SMC FIM in 2014, Mr. Disdier spent 25 years at the Dreyfus Corporation, the mutual fund subsidiary of BNY Mellon Investment Management. He served in a number of capacities including the Director of Municipal Securities ($24 billion AUM), Chairman of the Dreyfus Investment Committee, Co-Portfolio Manager of the Dreyfus asset allocation fund-of-funds, Director of Fixed Income Strategies, and Senior Global Markets Strategist. Previously, Mr. Disdier was a Vice-president and Portfolio Manager at Smith Barney Mutual Management Corporation where he established and managed a series of open-end tax-exempt mutual funds. Earlier in his investment career he was employed by Mellon Bank (East) and served in a variety of investment roles including Vice President and manager of the Trust Department’s Philadelphia fixed income division. Mr. Disdier received an MBA from Drexel University and a B.S. in Finance from Villanova University.

James George

Director of Municipal Research

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.

Doug Bermingham

Investment Specialist

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 L. (“Launny”) Steffens

Senior Portfolio Strategist

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.

Aaron De Angelis, CPA

Chief Compliance Officer

Mr. De Angelis is the Chief Compliance Officer of SMC. Prior to joining SMC in January 2008, Mr. De Angelis was a Managing Partner at KPMG, responsible for developing and leading the firm’s 1940 Act consulting practice from March 2007 to January 2008, and was the Chief Compliance Officer at Brandywine Global Asset Management, LLC from May 2004 to March 2007. Previously, Mr. De Angelis served as the Vice President–Director of Compliance at Rorer Asset Management, LLC from January 1998 to May 2004. He was also employed by the Securities and Exchange Commission as a Senior Securities Compliance Examiner/Staff Accountant in the Philadelphia District Office from January 1991 to December 1997. Mr. De Angelis served on the board of the National Society of Compliance Professionals and is on the National Society of Compliance Professionals’ Investment Adviser Resource Team. Mr. De Angelis received his B.S. in Finance and Accounting from LaSalle University, with honors, and is a Certified Public Accountant. In 2006, he was ranked in the “Top Twenty Up & Coming Compliance Professionals” by Institutional Investor - Compliance Reporter.

Michael V. Fraternale

Director of Operations and Portfolio Manager

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.