Like many established figures in the financial market whose careers began on a humble note, the story of Gerald B. Smith, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Smith Graham & Co., was no different from this script. He started from a department store that traded in men’s sportswear. Despite being an assistant buyer, he learned the ropes till he was employed by investment banking firm, Hibbard, O’Conner & Weeks in Houston, Texas, in 1974.
Once he developed his expertise in trading, Gerald joined the first African American firm, Dillon, Read & Co., which focused on the fixed-income sector – trading, and advising in portfolio management. Six years on, he partnered with others to establish the New York Futures Exchange, which was his first attempt at entrepreneurship. The company worked on the trading of Futures contracts of financial products.
Since then, he has juggled between investment firms and trading corporations. He joined the Westcap Corporation, where he was tasked with shoring up national sales and trading with institutional investors. Before he founded his billion-dollar firm, he worked as Senior Vice President and Director of fixed-income securities for Underwood Neuhaus & Co.
After his own share of successes and failures in the financial market, Gerald established Smith Graham & Co Investment Advisors, LP. in Houston, Texas, along with Ladell Graham in 1990. The company has since diversified into other interests, including public funds, corporations, endowments, and Taft-Hartley plans. The entity now controls over $6 billion in Mortgage & Real Estate Debt, fixed income, and equity institutional assets.
His energies have been directed on getting institutional investors to hedge their interest-rate risk by using financial futures, according to history makers.
Born on September 28, 1950, in Houston, Texas, Gerald had his high school education at Jack Yates in Houston, in 1968, and attained his B.B.A degree from Texas Southern University in 1972. Since his success with Smith Graham & Co, he has had the opportunity to serve in other capacities, including serving as a trustee of various funds of The Charles Schwab Family of Funds, and later as a director of Cooper Industries.
He also worked as a director of Northern Border Partners, L.P., as well as the lead independent director and presiding non-management director of Cooper Industries PLC. Gerald was named one of the 50 Most Powerful African Americans on Wall Street by Black Enterprise in 2007. Other academic institutions have also acknowledged his contributions to society; he was honored with an honorary doctorate degree from Texas Southern University.
Gerald and his wife were also recognized as Excellence in Education Honorees at the Annual United Negro College Fund’s Gala in 2015. He was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from The Greater Houston Black Chamber of Commerce, and The National Economic Empowerment & Entrepreneurship Award from The 100 Black Men Association of America in 2015.