Citing an increased need for professional management of municipal bond investments an the increasingly volatile market, Miller Tabak & Co. launched a subsidiary investment advisory firm specializing in the management of high-quality municipal bonds for individuals.

Miller Tabak Asset Management will be spearheaded by founding partners Tony Crescenzi, who has worked for Miller Tabak & Co. since 1986, and Michael Pietronico, who had previously been with Evergreen Investments and predecessor firms since 1992.

Crescenzi is the chairman of Miller Tabak Asset Management, which officially launched on March 10, the date Pietronico joined the company. Pietronico is the new subsidiary's chief executive officer.

"Miller Tabak wanted to branch out into the asset management side, and Tony and I had wanted to work together for quite some time, and the opportunity was right, as I left Evergreen, to do it now," said Pietronico, who was previously senior vice president and portfolio manager at Evergreen. "How we're going to operate is as a separate investment advisory firm of Miller Tabak. Tony and I are original founding partners of the firm, and Miller Tabak, the broker-dealer side, has an equity interest, obviously."

Pietronico said they will be managing individual accounts, and there will be no limit to the amount of assets they can take in.

He also said that with the "weakness in monoline insurers and the way that credit spreads in the market have been widening out, pretty much since last August, the need for professional management for individual municipal portfolios has gone up quite dramatically."

"We don't see that changing any time in the near future," Pietronico said. "We think that the market has changed permanently and, outside of a few certain instances, the need for credit work and the need for diligence on issuers' finances is going to remain high, and that's a perfect backdrop for professional management."

Additionally, Crescenzi said that he and Pietronico feel "there are opportunities to trade into securities that have the prospects to possibly ascend, in terms of reduced credit risk."

Crescenzi, who is also chief bond market strategist at Miller Tabak and will be holding a dual role, said that the new venture is exciting for him because he's "always had an inkling to manage money, because I've been lucky enough to have good calls on interest rates and other asset classes, and I would like to apply" the knowledge.

"People are always looking to do more in life, and this is one of those things, for me at least," Crescenzi said. "I've tracked markets for a long time, and had a good track record there, so I need to apply it more. I want to put more of what I know to work, into helping people make money. Because that's essentially what I've done since I started doing work in this interest rate field ... really help people to make good decisions in all asset classes."

Crescenzi said the firm is currently in the process of building its assets. He wrote the Strategic Bond Investor, which was published in 2002, and recently revised the 1,200-page book Stigum's Money Market, first published in 1978 by Marcia Stigum.

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