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The Financial Times’ Wealth Management Summit – Quantifying the opportunities for the next generation of moonshot philanthropists

10 February 2022

I greatly enjoyed the opportunity to participate in the Financial Times’ roundtable on the Great Wealth Transfer. The lively discussion, chaired by Elisa Trovato, Editor of Professional Wealth Management, concerned the future of the wealth management industry as finance specialists look to engage the growing number of millennial investors. Every panellist offered unique insights around how financial advisors must adapt to accommodate the younger generation’s preference for purposeful and high-impact investing. This trend was captured by Beth Lawlor, President, U.S. Bank Private Wealth Management, who summarised: “Today’s young investors see themselves as stewards of wealth and impact and purpose.”

We all agreed that young investors’ desires to align their investments with their values offers a valuable opportunity for mutually beneficial collaboration between the wealth management and philanthropic industries.

My contributions drew on my own experiences as a consumer of both the wealth management and philanthropic services offered by private banks. I highlighted the role wealth advisors must play in guiding young investors beyond their comfort zone. Amy Lo, Chief Executive at UBS Global Wealth Management and David Durlacher, CEO of Julius Baer, emphasised the need to interact with millennials ‘in their language’.

My key message throughout the discussion was that “whether in wealth management or philanthropy, the bottom line is that we have to take more risk.” In response to the shifting investment landscape, I stressed the need for wealth advisors and older generations to increase millennials’ appetite for risk and tolerance of constructive failure. For me, acting as a steward of wealth also entails helping investors to build this mindset, and redefine their model for success.

Given the increased preference among younger investors for exciting and volatile ventures such as Bitcoin, I argued that this risk-taking capital should likewise be applied to philanthropic projects. The culture of solely celebrating success has previously created a fear of failure that has restricted philanthropic impact and led to disillusionment among young investors. Mark Greer, Managing Director of the Charities Aid Foundation, highlighted the emergence of “a new generation of philanthropists who are more interested in innovation to address issues that previous generations’ philanthropic solutions failed.” I agreed that the philanthropy industry must capitalise on this disillusionment to build success upon previous failures.

In order to use philanthropy to bring about disruptive change, I urged young investors to “fund out of the box ideas, many of which will fail.” The high-net-worth community is the only group that can take large financial risks. Given the scale of the problems we face, this next generation has the opportunity, and responsibility, to fund projects that aim high enough to either fail, or become game-changers.

See the event overview here.