Looking into the Crystal Ball We See A Future of Fun for a Loyal Parsec Economist: A Tribute to Dr. James F. Smith

By Rick Manske, CFP®, BFA™, Chief Executive Officer

It is with much fondness and admiration that I share the news of Dr. Smith’s departure from Parsec as of May 1, 2020. Dr. Smith has been Parsec’s Chief Economist since February 1, 2006. In the 14 years with our firm he has provided invaluable expertise to our clients and the broader community through events such as UNCA’s annual Crystal Ball event, for which we are forever grateful.

Dr. Smith will continue in his roles as an Adjunct Professor at UNC Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flagler Business School and as Chief Economist for EconForecaster, LLC.

When I think back on his contributions to Parsec, I recall his annual trips to Rocky Mount and Pinehurst with Parsec Founder Bart Boyer. For everyone who has seen Dr. Smith speak in person, you likely recall his no-charts-all-numbers way of rambling off countless economic numbers by memory in a way that keeps you engaged. That in and of itself is an impressive feat when it comes to economic commentary!

Whether on the road speaking at events or behind his desk writing his latest Parsec blog, email or quarterly newsletter, he pours his passion into his work. He noted that his passion for economics began in high school when his guidance counselor told him he shouldn’t take calculus “because you’ll probably never need calculus” so he chose economics instead and it sealed his professional fate.

As a little-known fact about the man behind the numbers, he and his wife are the only two people in Asheville (as far as he knows) who survived Ground Zero in Manhattan on 9/11 when they were at the Marriott World Trade Center between the two towers.

On a brighter note, he also touts that he is a long-time member of The Jim Smith Society (apparently there are about 26,000 Jim Smiths in the U.S.).

“Our motto is, ‘we don’t shun fun,’” he said. “That’s pretty much my philosophy of living, too.”

Cheers to Jim and his countless contributions to Parsec over the past 14 years and may he and his wife have countless fun opportunities ahead of them!

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