“Gaining this important nationally recognized client is a gratifying reaffirmation of our reputation,” said John Spagnola, a managing director at PFM Asset Management and a former pro football player

A committee representing National Football League owners and players has named PFM Asset Management LLC to oversee the investments of their defined contribution plans, the firm announced Monday.

PFM Asset Management is a member of the Philadelphia-based PFM Group of companies.

According to the firm, it will manage in excess of $1 billion on a discretionary basis for the NFL player annuity program and advise on more than $1.6 billion for the NFL player second career savings plan -- a 401(k) plan -- and the NFL player capital accumulation plan on a non-discretionary basis.

The award followed a competitive process that included several rounds of interviews and submission of proposals from nationally known investment advisory and consulting firms.

PFMAM's proposal suggested several enhancements to the current structure of the NFL Player 401(k) plan. The proposal factored in the brevity of careers and players' their ability to draw down on their annuity programs as early as age 35.

The heads of the PFMAM relationship team made presentations to NFL owners and players. They included managing directors John Spagnola, Jim Link and Michael Harris; directors Biagio Manieri and Mark Yasenchak; and senior managing consultant Margaret Belmondo.

"Gaining this important nationally recognized client is a gratifying reaffirmation of our reputation," said Spagnola.

Michael Lipper of Lipper Advisory Services Inc. was the previous advisor to the funds and resigned from that responsibility as of the end of the year. Spagnola noted Lipper's longstanding reputation in the investment industry, his 20 years of service for the NFL Player Plans amid changing markets, and expressed PFMAM's confidence in following him.

Spagnola, a co-head of PFMAM's multi-asset portfolio group, working with numerous pension and retirement funds across the U.S., was a tight end in the NFL for 11 seasons, including nine with the Philadelphia Eagles and one year each with the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks.

He played for the Eagles in Super Bowl XV, catching a 22-yard pass from Ron Jaworski during Philadelphia's 27-10 loss to the Oakland Raiders in January 1981 at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans.

A native of Bethlehem, Pa., Spagnola starred at Yale University as a wide receiver.

In an interview with The Bond Buyer last month, Spagnola said his sports background prepared him well for a career in finance.

"I think the overarching philosophy is not to get too high or too low. Things are not as good or bad as they seem," he said. "That lesson you can apply to managing assets and working with clients. The experience of 'we'll get through this' has carried us 15 years and through two of the worst bear markets in history."

PFM Asset Management now manages more than $13.7 billion in both discretionary and non-discretionary multi-asset class assets, and has built out its investment program over the past eight years. This engagement will help increase PFMAM's discretionary portfolio to more than $4 billion in assets under management beginning in 2015, according to the firm.

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