School of Divinity

Chris Turpin - MA Religious Studies

Managing Director at First State Investment.

I completed my undergraduate degree at New College specialising in Ancient Near Eastern Religions and Languages. I’ve been fascinated by religions since childhood and the Religious Studies MA programme perfectly matched my interests. 

I had a fantastic four years at Edinburgh University and have many happy memories of New College.  It was a genuine privilege to study in such a beautiful and historically significant building. The highlight for me came at the end of my 3rd year when I spent a summer month at the University of Jerusalem studying Biblical Hebrew and Archaeology. This was an unforgettable cultural experience and I feel extremely fortunate to have had this opportunity. 

Like many undergraduates, I was absorbed by my studies and hadn’t given much thought to what I was going to do once I graduated. Towards the end of my penultimate year, I realised that academic passion and vocation didn’t have to be the same so I started to consider employment options with a view to returning to academic study in later life. I decided that I’d continue to pursue my interest in religion as a hobby and that’s exactly what I did.

In 1996 I joined a large accounting firm but quickly found that I wasn’t cut out for accountancy! They did, however, give me the opportunity to study for a professional investment qualification and I’ve worked in asset management ever since.

I’m currently Managing Director at First State Investments, an Australian-owned asset management business with UK offices in London and Edinburgh. We see our role as stewards of our clients’ assets and invest them for long-term, sustainable growth by being good owners of the companies we invest in. 

We’re responsible for over £50bn of client assets in Europe and our clients range from mums and dads to large multinational pension funds and governments. I enjoy the variety of experiences that my role affords me as well as the opportunity to travel and meet people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. I believe we play a very important societal role helping investors achieve their savings goals.

The analytical skills I acquired at New College have definitely served me well in my choice of career but I benefited most from the strong sense of curiosity that I developed at in my time at Edinburgh. Theology and Religious Studies degrees are excellent platforms for a wide range of careers and employers are increasingly looking for graduates with alternative academic backgrounds to foster diversity of thought in their businesses. There is a wide range of careers in financial services and it’s an unfortunate myth that you need to be good at maths or studied economics to apply! I am proof that you don’t!

Despite family and career commitments, I’ve maintained a keen interest in comparative religion and still plan to commit to a postgraduate programme within the next 10 years.