There has to be a very good reason to leave a tropical paradise boasting 340 days of sunshine – and temperatures ranging from 26 to 33 degrees Celsius – to move 2,500 kilometers northeast to Nova Scotia. For Anthony Ferguson (’85), that compelling reason was Acadia.
Ferguson was born on Crooked Island (pop. 337), one of 700 islands and cays that comprise the coral-based Caribbean nation of The Bahamas. His father was a carpenter and his mother a domestic servant. “I really came from very, very humble beginnings,” he says. “I’ve been blessed and I’m thankful every day for the opportunities that have been presented to me, and quite frankly Acadia was a big part of my development professionally.”
After earning his BBA from Acadia, Ferguson returned home to become a highly successful financial analyst and investment advisor. He is a partner of AF Holdings Ltd., a family office holding company; president of CFAL, a leading independent investment and advisory firm based in The Bahamas; Executive Vice-Chairman of Ansbacher Bahamas Limited, a leading international private bank in The Bahamas; and a director of Colina Insurance Limited, The Bahamas’ oldest life and health insurer, and the Nassau Guardian (1844) Ltd., the country’s oldest newspaper. Among his many achievements, he is the former Director of the National Insurance Board and Past President of the Bahamas Society of Financial Analysts. He is a member of the Association for Investment Management and Research, and the Chartered Market Technicians Association.
He credits Acadia with laying the foundation and providing the tools necessary to build a multi-faceted financial career. “I made relationships with professors that I can still call upon today,” he says. “It has helped me to get where I am.”
In high school, Ferguson was looking for a small university that focused on academics. A friend recommended Acadia. “Acadia had a really good reputation in the financial and accounting world,” he says. “When I arrived on campus, it actually seemed big to me because I attended a high school with fewer than 10 graduates, but Acadia wasn’t intimidating. People were extremely friendly and very helpful. Everything was done with a view to helping you and making you feel comfortable.”
Canada and The Bahamas have always enjoyed a warm and vital relationship, a fact not lost on Ferguson. “That was part of my decision to go to school in Canada,” he says. “Because of their traditions and culture and those historic ties. The people are known to be friendly, warm and welcoming and that’s what I experienced when I first went to Acadia. I immediately felt at home.”
Even the inevitable arrival of winter failed to chill Ferguson’s enthusiasm. He discovered that the frigid temperatures were no match for the warmth of the people.
He singles out John Churchill (’67) and Mark Webb as examples of professors who went the extra mile for students. “They were all very interested in you as a person. If you didn’t understand something, you could go by their office and they’d explain it. They really took a personal interest in your development. You could ask questions about careers or opportunities. They were not guidance counsellors, but they really tried to guide you in what they thought was best for you as a student. They worked closely with you to help you to understand a particular topic or approach to a problem.”
Loyal to his alma mater
The Bahamian presence at Acadia will continue to grow and flourish if Ferguson has anything to say about it. The Bahamian Acadia community stays in close contact and alumni go out of their way to support newer graduates. “We try to help one another with jobs,” Ferguson says. “If I have job interviews with three candidates and one went to Acadia, of course you know who gets hired.”
Ferguson’s loyalty to his alma mater also extends to recruitment. “I do encourage students who attend the College of the Bahamas or high schools that are looking for universities to consider Acadia,” he says. “I tell them that it’s a small, intimate university with an excellent reputation in the financial world and that the level and quality of education you get is second to none.
“You get to interact with professors who take a personal interest in you and, once you finish, the Bahamian Alumni Association is strongly behind you. We all try to recruit or place Acadia graduates. Acadia is absolutely well-known and respected throughout The Bahamas and, as employers, we know the level of basic education they would have attained and that they will be able to add value on the job.”
Written by Jim Prime (’69)