Home » 5 companies linked to African-American investment titan Gerald Smith

5 companies linked to African-American investment titan Gerald Smith

Smith's impact on corporate, financial, and philanthropic fronts

by Feyisayo Ajayi
Gerald Smith

Gerald Smith, a titan in investment banking, leads Smith Graham Investment Advisors as co-founder, chairman, and CEO. His journey reflects tireless advocacy, strategic leadership, and an unwavering commitment toward success in investment advisory and banking. 

Beyond corporate leadership, Smith is a transformative figure, shaping firms through steadfast commitment, strategic brilliance, and an unwavering pursuit of success. Starting in the retail realm as an assistant buyer at Foley’s, he gleaned foundational insights that defined his multifaceted career.

In 1974, Smith pivoted to finance, joining Hibbard, O’Conner & Weeks in Houston, swiftly becoming the first African-American hired by Dillon, Read & Co. in New York. This marked the beginning of a trailblazing career in investment banking.

From roles at Westcap Corporation to co-founding Smith Graham & Co. Investment Advisors in 1990 with Ladell Graham, their partnership signaled not just the birth of a firm, but a commitment to reshape the financial landscape.

Under Smith’s leadership, Smith Graham Investment Advisors burgeoned into a financial powerhouse, managing an impressive $6 billion in institutional assets, and earning a reputation for reliability and outstanding performance.

Beyond boardrooms, Smith’s impact extends far. As chair of the investment committee at esteemed organizations like the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Thesele Foundation, and Texas Southern University Foundation, he serves as a committed trustee fostering positive change.

Billionaires.Africa outlines five companies linked to Smith, showcasing his influential role in the various institutions:

  1. Smith Graham Investment Advisors: Smith, the CEO of Smith Graham Investment Advisors, leads a $6 billion institutional investment firm based in Houston. Boasting over four decades of industry experience and a founding role at the New York Futures Exchange, Smith established Smith Graham in 1990. Today, it stands as one of the nation’s largest minority-owned investment management firms, known for its expertise in hedging interest rate risk using financial futures.
  2. OneOk Inc: Oneok, Inc., based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is a key player in the U.S. natural gas industry. Founded in 1906 and rebranded in 1980, the company owns 45.1 percent of ONEOK Partners, L.P. With Smith’s strategic guidance as one of its eleven directors since August 5, 2009, the company maintains Fortune 500 status, excelling in natural gas operations such as gathering, processing, storage, and transportation. ONEOK serves over two million customers in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas, solidifying its impact on the energy sector under Smith’s directorial leadership.
  3. Eaton Corp. Plc: Eaton Corporation, is an American-Irish multinational power management company with a presence in more than 175 countries. Smith, who transitioned to the Eaton board in 2012, following the acquisition’s completion, has since contributed a distinctive perspective as an independent director of Eaton Corporation PLC. Holding a minority 0.01-percent stake, equivalent to 1,791 ordinary shares, Smith’s presence underscores his commitment to shaping the company’s strategic direction with insight gained from his association with Cooper Industries plc.
  4. Greater Houston Partnership: The Greater Houston Partnership (GHP), the largest Houston chamber of commerce, spearheads economic development, foreign trade, and efficient government advocacy. Representing 1,100 organizations and championing growth across 12 counties by bringing together business and civic-minded leaders who are dedicated to the area’s long-term success also finds Smith serving on the Board of its directors.
  5. Texas Business Hall of Fame Foundation: As the chairman of the board of trustees for the Texas Business Hall of Fame Foundation, Smith spearheads pivotal initiatives through substantial financial contributions, as he expands programs and ensures the foundation’s sustainability. Leveraging his network and business expertise, Smith attracts influential figures and corporations, fortifying financial stability. Advocating for a broader perspective, he celebrates not just traditional metrics, but also community impact and ethical leadership. Smith’s vision enhances diversity among inductees, enriching the Hall of Fame’s narrative and relevance.

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