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Ord, Charles Andrew (1905–1977)

by Kay Sweeney

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, (MUP), 2000

Charles Andrew Ord (1905-1977), banker and stockbroker, was born on 16 June 1905 at Cooma, New South Wales, second child of George William Ord, a bank manager from England, and his native-born wife Grace Elizabeth, née Aiken. Charles spent his childhood mainly in country towns—Cooma, Ulmarra, Maclean and Lismore—before attending (1919-21) Cranbrook School, Sydney. Following his father, he joined (1922) the Australian Bank of Commerce; after the bank was taken over in 1931, he continued with the Bank of New South Wales. He studied accountancy part time and became an associate of the Commonwealth Institute of Accountants. A good cricketer, he also played Rugby Union football for Eastern Suburbs.

At All Saints Church, Woollahra, on 25 June 1932 Ord married with Anglican rites Marjorie Vivienne Elizabeth Lord, a 27-year-old nurse; they were to live at Darling Point. In 1923 he had joined the Militia. On 1 October 1939 he began full-time duty as major, Royal Australian Artillery. Transferred to the Australian Imperial Force in August 1942, he was promoted lieutenant colonel in September. He served in Sydney (1939-42 and 1943-45), Darwin (1942) and Fremantle (1945), commanding coastal artillery and performing staff and instructional duties. In September 1945 he transferred to the Retired List. An assistant (1946-49) to the central inspector of the Bank of N.S.W., Ord helped in the bank's battle against nationalization. In May 1949 he resigned from the bank and joined the Sydney Stock Exchange (committee-member 1966-69).

A tall (6 ft 1 in., 185 cm), imposing man, with piercing blue eyes and a jutting chin, Ord had a forceful personality. Some people were terrified of him; others thought him extroverted and boisterous; family and friends found him kind, fun-loving and courageous, with a zest for life. All agreed that his strengths were his recognition of talent and his receptiveness to ideas. He enjoyed being in authority: honest and straightforward, he insisted on integrity. J. A. M. Minnett, a friend from army days and an experienced broker, joined him in the partnership in 1951, but it was Ord who was the driving force in extending the range of business. He built up a strong firm which combined academically qualified staff and experienced brokers. Ord & Minnett set up a research service (1953) and investment trusts, underwrote several important company flotations, including Lend Lease Corporation Ltd (1958) and Pioneer Sugar Mills Ltd (1960), and entered the semi-government and corporate debenture markets. Ord frequently travelled abroad to make new business connexions.

Strengthened by the acquisitions of A. W. Harvey Lowe & Co. (1960) and T. J. Thompson & Sons (1964), the firm was renamed (1964) Ord, Minnett, T. J. Thompson & Partners and developed into one of Australia's leading brokerage businesses. In 1961 Ord had helped to establish the investment bank, Darling & Co. With Bankers' Trust Co., New York, the firm formed in 1969 (and Ord chaired until 1973) a new merchant bank, Ord-BT Co. Ltd. During the 1960s Ord had been nominated by the Commonwealth government to attend meetings of the World Bank as an observer. In June 1970 he reluctantly retired from Ord Minnett and received a record $85,000 for his stock-exchange seat. It was a mark of Charles Ord's achievements that Ord Minnett was soundly based and survived several stock-market crashes when other firms collapsed.

Ord was appointed M.B.E. in 1975. He was State chairman (1970-71) of the National Heart Foundation of Australia, and a generous benefactor to charities, among them the (Royal) Guide Dogs for the Blind Associations of Australia, the New South Wales Society for Crippled Children, and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. Vice-president of the State branch of the National Parks and Wildlife Foundation, he was a delegate (1970) to the congress of the World Wildlife Fund, London. He belonged to Royal Sydney Golf Club, and was a Freemason (past master of Lodge Army and Navy), a councillor (1953-68) of Cranbrook, and president (1953-54) of the Old Cranbrookians' Association. (Sir) Russell Drysdale was a friend; Ord bought his painting, 'The Sunday Walk'.

Survived by his wife and two daughters, Ord died on 31 March 1977 at R.P.A.H., Camperdown, and was cremated. His portrait by Jeffrey Smart is held by the family.

Select Bibliography

  • R. F. Holder, Bank of New South Wales (Syd, 1970)
  • S. Salsbury and K. Sweeney, Sydney Stockbrokers (Syd, 1992)
  • R. J. White and C. Clarke, Cheques and Balances (Melb, 1995)
  • Cranbrookian, June 1977, p 95
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 3 Jan 1933, 14 June 1975
  • Australian Financial Review, 20 Aug 1963
  • Cranbrook School, Sydney, archives
  • private information.

Citation details

Kay Sweeney, 'Ord, Charles Andrew (1905–1977)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/ord-charles-andrew-11312/text20193, published first in hardcopy 2000, accessed online 18 September 2019.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, (MUP), 2000

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