Wed | Jan 23, 2019

Charles Ross - The Investement Man

Published:Monday | March 30, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Charles Ross
Charles Ross

Charles Ross at the age of two moved to Belize from Jamaica with his family. Ross recalled a very bad hurricane in Belize when he was six years old that caused his parents to send him and his sister to reside in Jamaica with his aunt Alison Ross, in Highgate, St Mary. After spending six months at the St Cyprian's Preparatory School in St Mary, he went back to Belize.

Upon completing elementary school in Belize, he returned to Jamaica and boarded at the Calabar High School in St Andrew - where he studied the sciences.

During his five years there, he would go back to Belize for holidays. Ross is the first of two children for his parents and recalled having a close relationship with his father's side of the family - which he said was very big. His most memorable experience as a child was travelling from Belize to Mexico City on a bus that took five days. "We passed ferries, drove through mountains and flat lands, it was a great experience," he recalled.

Before graduation, Ross noticed that the construction industry in Jamaica was doing very well, so he decided to read for his bachelor of science degree in engineering, "In the late '60s early '70s, Jamaica was booming at the time and the construction industry was doing very well, and I did the sciences in high school, and I said I would do engineering and come back to Jamaica and work on big projects. So, I won a full scholarship to study civil engineering in Edinburgh in Scotland," he said.

Ross noted that the scholarship came with one condition and it was for him to come back to work for the Government of Jamaica for five years. "I came back to Jamaica and worked at the ministry of works for two years, then I moved to the National Authority, at the time, to complete the five years. I worked all over Jamaica, I actually was based in Montego Bay for four years, supervising large construction projects," he recalled.

Destined for greatness, Ross said that he went to the St Augustine campus of the University of the West Indies in Trinidad and Tobago to pursue his master of science degree in construction engineering and management. "While I was doing that I did a little bit of economics and I discovered that the engineering industry was a leading indicator of the economy, and so when the economy is down you can expect that the engineering industry will not be doing too well. It was out of that experience that I decided that maybe I should move into general management, so when I came back to Jamaica I enrolled in the diploma management studies programme at the University of the West Indies, Mona," he explained.

That programme, he said, was for him to get a better idea about accounting and finance - which was his main interest at first until he was introduced to the other aspects of management, "I was also introduced to strategic and general management, and human resources. I also started getting very interested in economics, so I did a lot of reading. At the time I think I might have been one of the few people in Jamaica that took a market approach to economics as opposed to a socialist approach," he laughed.

Consequently, Ross said he joined the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) as an

executive director, where he had to manage a small secretariat that had to manage the financial aspects of the company. At the time, he noted, he and his team had to do a lot of economic research for the company, since the company's main focus was on macroeconomic policy.

He went on to explain how he joined the company at a moment when the challenges were at their peak and he had to do a lot of research and problem solving to get things back together at the time, "I developed a lot of resources, which caused me to gain a lot of experience, while working there," he expressed.

Birth of Sterling Asset Management Limited

"Many Jamaicans, especially the ones who grew up in the '60s and '70s always aspire to having their own business some way or the other. For me, investing, and especially saving, was a discipline I guess I developed from high school and university - to manage my money and to manage on a very tight budget," he laughed.

Ross said that he and one of his close friends were looking for business opportunities and they saw a need in the financial environment. "There was a very short-term focus on investment and we realised that some people need to invest for medium and long term. Say for instance you are 40 and doing well, what happens when you are over 65? And fortunately for us that was in an area that was not well served, and so we started Sterling Assets Management Limited with that focus," he concluded.

Family fun-time

Ross met his wife at a carnival party in Trinidad and Tobago when he was studying. He is now blessed with two children - 28-year-old Marian and 26-year-old Charles Andrew. "I enjoy family dinners on the north coast and I also like travelling so we take family vacation overseas, at least once per month when possible. He enjoys playing golf and exercises two or three times per week.

Social life

Ross noted that he serves in the Rotary Club of St Andrew and as a part of the club's project makes tremendous contributions to help children in whatever way he can. "I assisted the Maxfield Children's Home, various high schools, donated university scholarships, hosted fun days - treated children to field trips to Dolphin Cove in Ocho Rios, among others.