Outstanding Contribution to Securitization — Rob Ford
This man’s passion for securitization runs deep — whether it’s calling a tune to the Global ABS conference, evangelism to sceptical regulators, or building a pioneering fixed income boutique out of the ashes of 2008, Rob Ford has remained at the centre of the market since its inception.
In a long career that’s seen him act on all sides of the market — as issuer, trader, and investor — Rob has become known to everyone, and universally well-regarded.
He was there at the European market’s inception, trading the early UK mortgage bonds in the late 80s, helping Barclays Capital through its first mortgage issuance, and latterly running ABS trading for the UK firm — then the dominant UK player in the securitization market.
Post-financial crisis, though, he went in a new direction, as a co-founder of TwentyFour Asset Management, an investment boutique with securitization running through its veins from the start. It was founded the same month that Lehman collapsed.
Defying the gloom of the period, the firm’s first mandate was an ABS mandate from an insurer. Other funds followed, with listed vehicles opening up the securitization asset class to a wider investor pool. TwentyFour’s UK Mortgages vehicle, for example, allowed anyone with a brokerage account to participate in the securitization market as a sponsor, not just a bond investor.
The innovations have continued more recently, with TwentyFour launching the first sustainable ABS fund — likely to be imitated given the ever-present enthusiasm for all things related to environmental, social and governance issues.
The rise and rise of TwentyFour has not just proved a success for the founders, it has also changed the landscape of European securitization and helped to draw in new pools of capital, playing a critical role in the rehabilitation of the industry.
Generous with his time, Rob is always ready to explain the benefits of securitization to clueless reporters or clueless regulators, sitting on panels, regulatory forums, and the Association for Financial Markets in Europe’s securitisation board.
He has advised the Bank of England, the Bundesbank and the European Central Bank on securitization markets, helped found the Prime Collateralized Securities initiative, explained the product to the European Parliament’s rapporteur for securitization regulation, and continues to advocate for the industry.
The phrase “doesn’t suffer fools gladly” is often used as a euphemism for a difficult person to deal with, tough and rude. In other words, the polar opposite of Rob, but that doesn’t mean he suffers fools — instead, he takes the time to explain where the fools in question might be going wrong, with as much diplomacy as needed, dipping a bucket into his deep well of market knowledge and sharing it liberally.
Rob sees his role not just as an investor in the product, but as a passionate evangelist for it, and he’s played a crucial role in the industry’s long journey back from pariah product to crucial plank for funding the real economy.
There might be some way still to go, but that’s ok — Rob’s not done yet.
Fond of a good glass of wine, fond of hurtling down snowy mountains at speed, and fond of music, Rob played keys in the now notorious (thanks to Gillian Tett) ABS industry band D:Leverage, entertaining the 2007 Global ABS conference (Rob has never missed a year).
For bringing the beats, bringing joy, wisdom, and total commitment to the market, GlobalCapital is pleased to recognise Rob Ford for his outstanding contribution to securitization. GC