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Hugh Ferrand


Mr Hugh Ferrand is a supporter of Birkbeck and served as a Governor of the College from 2011 to 2020. He also served as Chair of the Investment Committee and Chair of the Finance and General Purposes Committees in that time. Educated at University of Oxford's Christ Church, Hugh started his career in the City in 1981, before moving to work in Australia and Hong Kong in the mid 1980s. He then moved to New York before returning to London. After stints in Edinburgh and again in the US, he ran the Institutional division at Invesco in the UK for almost 20 years, before joining an old colleague at Australian firm, Challenger. 

Hugh now spends much of his time in the northeast of England, where he is also involved in agriculture, tourism and has recently been helping Ukrainian refugees integrate into Northumbrian life. A firm believer in the power of adult and higher education, he is keen to integrate his Birkbeck experience into his involvement with the national Levelling-Up agenda, and to contribute to upcoming 200th anniversary celebrations.


Today, it is my great honour to welcome Hugh Ferrand to a College Fellowship at Birkbeck, University of London. We are so honoured to welcome him to this position. Ferrand joined our community in 2007. He was initially op-opted to the Investment Committee before being invited to join the Finance and General Purposes Committee in 2010 as an external expert member. His skills, energy, and wise advice meant that, within a year, he was serving as an independent Governor. In 2012, he became Chair of the Investment Committee and, two years later, Chair of the Finance and General Purposes Committee. He was an excellent "fit" at the Finance and General Purposes Committee because his background was marketing investments rather than exclusively crunching numbers so he was a good complement to the other members. He continued in these roles until 2020, when his term of office as Governor came to an end. His value to our community can be judged by the fact that he served the maximum term allowed as a Governor – nine years –and this does not take account of his service as an external expert member on the Finance committee. Ferrand has therefore been involved with Birkbeck for over 13 years. We are grateful for his help in what were occasionally very difficult times.

Who is Hugh Ferrand? He was born and spent his early years on the coast of Fife, Scotland, but was sent to Eton College for his education. From there, he went to the University of Oxford, where he read Geography between 1978 and 1981. The skills he brought to Birkbeck were honed in the world of investment business. His early career was at Cazenove, which he joined in 1981 and worked for 11 years researching and selling Asian equities. He then had a period as an investment manager with Adam Bank, named after the economist and philosopher Adam Smith, the author of that foundational Enlightenment text "An inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations" (1776). Founded in 1983, Adam Bank was the first new bank to be established in Scotland in almost 150 years. Ferrand joined Blairlogie Capital, another Edinburgh based startup company (and its parent company, PIMCO) in 1993, where he worked as a specialist Asian fund manager, until 1997. He then moved to a small Korean company in the U.S. as Chief Investment Officer for a year –a position scuppered by the Asian credit crisis.

Between 1999 and 2018, Ferrand was head of UK international sales and client services at Invesco Ltd. The challenges were many, including dealing with the huge technological advances that were driving change, as well as new regulatory and reporting requirements. He excelled in developing strong relationships with clients in charities, pension schemes, insurance, and endowment funds. From 2018, he has been based at Fidante Partners, the global investment management firm that manages 72 billion Australian dollars of investment and has ten offices throughout the world. He was appointed to the Institutional Business development team in its London office. During his career, he has had important experience in terms of investment management in London, Sydney, Hong Kong, and New York.

Everyone I spoke to agreed that his skills lie in being a Fund manager, a relationship manager, and a leader of teams. Collaboration is a key work for him, and he revels in creating environments where everyone can flourish. He is client-focused, with expertise in delivering client confidence. But what about the private man? Ferrand is passionate about sport. While studying at the University of Oxford, he was Captain of the College football team, ran the Sports Club, and played tennis. These activities have cemented his passionate interest in sport. These days, for example, he can be found most Saturday mornings taking part in Parkrun –which, for those of you (like me) are less savvy about sport is an event that takes place in more than 2,000 locations throughout the world and in 23 countries. It involves a five kilometre run every weekend. In the UK alone, there are 1.7 million members, with 300,000 participating every week. According to their website, it is "a positive, welcoming and inclusive experience where there is no time limit and no one finishes last". It is said to be the biggest public health initiative in the twenty-first century. Football is also one of his keen interests. He is a Fulham season ticket holder but his heart really lies with his local team –St Johnstone Football Club, or The Saints, of Perth. Those interested in trivia might like to know that it is the only professional football club in Britain with a "J" in their name. For Ferrand, sport is essential for mental health. He admits he does the run for its "endorphin rush" and recommends exercise of all kinds for students.

Ferrand divides his time between London and Alnwick in Northumberland, a town he loves for its beauty. It is a fascinating town: historically the home of the storied Percy family and cinematically home of Harry Potter, Downton Abbey, and Blackadder. For many, it is a romantic place. In the words of Fitz-Greene Hallek, poet writing in the 1860s:

A gentle hill its side inclines,

Lovely in England's fadeless green,

To meet the quiet stream which winds

Through this romantic scene.

For us, though, what is important is Hugh's commitment and service to the College. He's a charming, enthusiastic person. He would arrive at Birkbeck by bicycle, and enjoyed talking eagerly about finding creative places to park his bike safely on campus. He was also the first ever Governor to do a meeting online –this was before Teams and he was on a mobile phone on the Eurostar coming back from a business trip, but still keen to help us with important decisions. I have been told that he always offered constructive, carefully thought-through suggestions. Ferrand is spoken about by other members of the Governing Body in tones of reverence. I have been told that he was "diligent, conscientious, and prepared". He was "self-aware, self-critical", asking "are we doing a good enough job as governors?" It is for his contributions to our community, and his passionate belief in Birkbeck's mission, that makes us thrilled to welcome him to a College Fellowship.