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.

John P. Pocceschi

Senior Portfolio Manager

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 King's College and received a Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA) Certification from the Investment and Wealth Institute.

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.

Greg Sandukas

Managing Director, General Counsel & Chief Compliance Officer

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

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.