The School of Accounting, which is housed in the Rawls College of Business, awarded over 150 scholarships and fellowships during their banquet held on September 27, 2018 at the McKenzie-Market Alumni Center. With approximately $300,000 awarded, this is one of the top years for student financial support.
In addition to honoring their scholarship and fellowship recipients, the School of Accounting also recognized James B. Smith, B.B.A. in Accounting, 1972, as a Distinguished Alumni.
2018 School of Accounting Distinguished Alumni
James B. Smith
B.B.A. in Accounting, 1972
Jim (or Jimmy in college) graduated from Texas Tech University with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting in 1972, and was a member of the Kappa Alpha Order fraternity. After graduation, he took a position as staff accountant with Reserve Life Insurance Company, the lead insurance company of Sammons Enterprises, which was one of the largest privately-owned companies in Dallas and the U.S. at that time. Jim stayed with Reserve Life for 7 years where he learned how large companies operate and what could be accomplished in the insurance industry, particularly within the areas of growth and asset management. He then accepted a position as Chief Financial Officer of Mountain States Life in Albuquerque, NM and remained there for 4 years. During this time Mountain States nearly doubled in size, but despite personal job satisfaction and learning a great deal about home office insurance operations, he took an opportunity in 1985 to pursue his own business.
Jim formed SouthwestRe in 1985 with one employee (himself) and it grew to an organization of 15 companies with over 130 employees by 2018. The two major companies were SouthwestRe, the original company which was a third-party insurance administrator, and Dealers Assurance Company (DAC), an A.M. Best A-Rated Property and Casualty Insurance Company located in Columbus, Ohio. DAC grew from $10 million of capital and surplus in 2004 when Jim bought the company to over $65 million of capital and surplus in 2017.
In January of 2018, Jim sold SouthwestRe and DAC to Industrial Alliance Insurance Company (IA) for $134.5 million. IA is one of the largest life insurance companies in Canada and the purchase of SouthwestRe and Dealers Assurance Company has been described by IA as the casualty insurance springboard for growth in the U.S. Since DAC is licensed in all 50 states and SouthwestRe's administrative platform is arguably one of the best in the industry, the prospects of continued growth are very good. Jim is especially pleased that the acquisition is by another insurance company (as opposed to a private equity firm) with no U.S. casualty insurance infrastructure, which bodes well for its continuity, both for itself and its employees.
From a personal business perspective, Jim is recognized as one of the industry leaders in the area of reinsurance and insurance taxation. He has developed reinsurance programs which have allowed his clients to realize over $1 billion of profits since the formation of SouthwestRe in 1985. Jim does not plan to retire, but to begin business in areas that are complementary to SouthwestRe and DAC.
Jim enjoys reading, watching sports, and keeping up with Texas Tech University. He is also proud that the School of Accounting has continued to receive the accolades it does.
The School of Accounting is the first separately accredited School of Accounting in Texas and one of only about 40 such schools nationwide. The Accounting Program is also one of only 168 programs in the U.S. that is separately accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).