Podcast: Philanthropy and impactful investing
This is a new podcast supporting the release of the latest ‘Investing for Global Impact: A Power for Good’ report. For more information and related content, please see the links at the bottom of the page.
Please note: The views expressed in this podcast do not constitute advice or recommendations.
In the first of a new podcast series, host Damian Payiatakis, our Head of Sustainable and Impact Investing, is joined by Juliet Agnew, our Head of Philanthropy, to explore a topic increasingly on the minds of families and foundations: “What should be the relationship between our philanthropy and investing? Could and should we more closely align the two?”
In this fascinating discussion, which examines the potential benefits and barriers to an integrated approach to impact, Juliet shares UHNW family insights, and reflects on the unique takeaways from the latest ‘Investing for Global Impact’ report.
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Damian Payiatakis: Hello, and welcome to our three-episode podcast series providing insights for advisers, executives and families on how to generate positive impact with family capital.
This series coincides with the latest Investing for Global Impact report, which Barclays Private Bank has been pleased to support. Now in its ninth year, the report provides exclusive access into the attitudes and activity of some of the world’s wealthiest individuals, families, family offices and their foundations when it comes to building their wealth – and a better future.
Around 150 respondents from 34 countries, with an average of $730 million of assets under management, responded to over 100 questions about their investing and giving, creating a truly unique report.
I’m Damian Payiatakis, Head of Sustainable and Impact Investing at Barclays Private Bank, and I’ll be joined by guests to discuss the report’s key themes and who will be sharing valuable reflections from their own experiences too.
Today, I’m delighted to welcome Juliet Agnew, our Head of Philanthropy. Juliet spends her time speaking with clients on how to get started with philanthropy, what to do when they’re feeling overwhelmed, how to focus on what to fund, as well as examples and inspiration from other families and, most importantly, how to have the biggest impact with their capital.
She joins us to discuss a topic at the intersection of both of our roles and, more importantly, what’s on the minds of many of our families – what is the relationship between our philanthropy and investing, and should we be thinking about more closely aligning these?
Juliet, a real pleasure to have you here today. And for those who haven’t met you or listened to some of your great podcasts, can you tell us a bit about your background and how you’ve come to the field?
Juliet Agnew: Thanks, Damian. I’ve been in this space for about 20 years now. I started out in international development actually, so really on the ground, on the coalface of social change, working with a range of operational charities, small and medium-sized, working in countries like Uganda, Kenya, Burma, really on a range of challenging issues like human rights, health, poverty, education.
So that was my early experience of working in this space. And later on, I went on to lead a number of foundations donating to a range of causes internationally, working with wealthy families to think through their approach to giving, setting up their structures and their strategies on how to manage their giving.
Damian Payiatakis: Fantastic. Well, I think that really starts us off really well in terms of the philanthropic side, and obviously the sustainable side and the investing side has to come in as well. But let’s start actually with some definitions.
I’m sure most families have a sense of what philanthropy is, in general terms, but how we define things is actually really important to what we do. So when you start a conversation, when you talk about philanthropy, how do you go about defining that?
Juliet Agnew: It’s a good question. For me, philanthropy is explicitly about societal good and it’s really about not just money but the skills, the time, the networks and connections you have. It’s bringing all of that in pursuit of societal good.
And I think that many people think of philanthropy as about giving to charity, and of course it can entail that, but it’s important to note that it also can involve a much wider range of giving to different types of organisations, and it’s certainly more than about writing a cheque. It’s got to be underpinned by thoughtful intention and it often requires a process of reflection on inner values as well as the needs that are out there in the world.
And the other thing I’ll say is that it’s important to note that a lot of people think of philanthropy as being about giving away billions, and often it’s not. It’s more about what you give and how you give it than the sum of money.
Damian Payiatakis: That’s really interesting because as a starting point in terms of looking at philanthropy relative to sustainable investing, we see some of the overlaps which I think we’ll come back to. But just to complement that, let me talk a little bit about how we talk about sustainable investing, which we use as an umbrella term. There’s lots of language out there at the moment, which I know many families find confusing, between ESG and ethical and sustainable and responsible etc, so let’s share a little bit about how we think about it.
I talk about investing to intentionally generate financial returns and societal impact to protect and grow the investor’s assets while making a positive contribution to our world. And I think there’s a few things that overlap, but also are important to recognise – the thoughtful intentionality in terms of what it is that families can do with their wealth. But obviously this is financially motivated or financially driven in many respects, the idea of protecting and growing assets. Sometimes it’s about growing wealth in terms of new ideas; sometimes it’s about protecting from a risk perspective. And I think making that positive contribution obviously is the link between the two here.
Let me take a second to talk about some of the different approaches, just so that people understand that we see three different broad approaches. One is ethical investing, where we’re applying a predetermined set of values or beliefs generally to exclude sectors, not to get involved with certain things. Secondly, responsible investing brings in environmental, social and governance data, so ESG data to inform investment decisions, and that’s primarily to mitigate risks. And lastly, we see impact investing, which is seeking to invest for the positive measurable outcomes alongside financial returns, and that motivation is both financial and outcome related.
And I think as we’re starting to talk about that, what do you notice in terms of the comparison between the two areas?
Juliet Agnew: I think I would echo some of what you said there in a sense that obviously philanthropy in of itself is about the act of intentionally trying to benefit society so there can be an overlap there. But, critically, philanthropy more than often entails a financial loss and that’s accepted. Sometimes, and this is where we get into the space of what’s between philanthropy and investing, that capital may be returned in philanthropy, but most of the time the family or the donor is accepting that that money is going to be gifted and, for a lot of people, the act of giving is in of itself extremely important. It goes really deeply to values, to a sense of commitment to community.
These acts can be strongly rooted in deep sense of belief and faith sometimes as well, and it often speaks to a sense of purpose about what is the purpose of our wealth, families will be asking questions about what is the meaning of all of this, what is our wider contribution to society? The real difference is the deep-rooted sense of values and the highly personal nature of the starting point for a lot of people when it comes to philanthropy.
Damian Payiatakis: It’s really interesting that you say that because I do think we are starting to see where impact investing comes in, that element of what our Head of Behavioural Finance would call emotional returns, the value that people get by investing to solve some of these societal problems, and obviously that’s much higher probably in the philanthropic sense.
There’s one other thing that I picked up that you were talking about, which I think is really interesting, in terms of ‘who’. So you talked about family and different family members being involved. I think in the investing sense we often see the head of the family, a matriarch or a patriarch, who’s really ultimately making the decision or sometimes it will be the investing committee doing that, whereas when you were talking about philanthropy, I hear you more talk about the broader family being involved.
Can you share a little bit more about how you see the family and who within the family is getting involved with the philanthropy?
Juliet Agnew: I think it’s a pretty diverse picture to be honest. It can be the matriarch or the patriarch who initiates the conversation. Perhaps they are thinking about legacy, perhaps they’re going through a liquidity event or they’ve recently had a change of circumstances, or something like a liquidity event is on the horizon and they may be thinking about what is the purpose of this wealth that we have and what will it mean for my family? That is a situation that comes up a lot actually with family members.
But I also speak to younger generations who are aware that they are about to inherit, or have recently inherited, and are navigating some complex feelings around that wealth. So I think it is quite diverse, and actually I think the family dynamics around this conversation can be very enriching but also quite complex in that different family members, different generations have different perspectives on wealth.
Damian Payiatakis: I think we’re definitely seeing that in the sustainable investing space too. I think many people expect, and generally it is a younger generation who’s more naturally inclined to think about both the aspect of investing and the contribution it makes to the world at the same time.
But more and more we’re seeing multiple generations or different generations within a family becoming intrigued by the idea but for different reasons. It’s a great point to start to bring in those motivations, and let’s bring in the survey as well. So from the ‘Investing for Global Impact’ report, one of the things that we did ask about were the key motivations for both sustainable investing and for philanthropy. And it’s interesting looking at the top answers for both of those.
So, very quickly, for investing, the top three reasons or motivations were, first, the responsibility to make the world a better place. Second, incorporating sustainability considerations was going to lead to better investment returns or risk management etc. And the third was that it was a way to show that the family wealth can be invested for positive outcomes. So top three reasons there.
And similarly for philanthropy, we gave a similar set of choices. And there the top reason, responsibility to make the world a better place. Second was engaging with the next generation or leaving a legacy. And the third reason was because they felt passionate about the specific cause to which they gave money.
So a lot of overlap there, but also some divergences. I’m curious, how does that compare with your experience?
Juliet Agnew: I think those statistics and those findings pretty much reflect what I see in my client interactions. Unsurprisingly, the starting place for the motivation is really about making the world a better place. It’s about values, it’s about contribution, it’s definitely about family too. Something I’m hearing a lot of families talk about is the desire to give as a family and how rewarding and enriching that could be, but also concern about making sure that the next generation is well equipped for the future with everything that they are going to have to face.
Damian Payiatakis: Interesting, yes. I think that there is definitely that motivation also for families. I was talking to a European matriarch of a family. She was considering how she was going to be thinking about, almost that aspect of what are we leaving the kids? How are we starting to show and demonstrate the wealth that we have, getting them ready for it?
But thinking already about saying, this is how we’re investing on your behalf, but also how you should be thinking about what our family wealth can be doing in relation to the world that she wanted to leave for the kids.
And so the motivation there is a bit clear in relation to how they want to use sustainable investing to certain ends. I’m curious, are there ways that you see philanthropy being used, sort of the purpose of philanthropy itself, that is specific to what it is that families want to achieve?
Juliet Agnew: I think it’s very personal and it depends on every family. Everyone’s different. People come to philanthropy for a variety of different reasons, but there is often a personal element to it. But there are also, you know, individuals that come to it with a different mindset and, as I mentioned before, I did mention the next generation, I’m seeing more next gen interested in thinking about how they can use all of their capital in a more holistic way. So they are coming from a slightly different perspective and thinking about their lifestyle and their investments alongside their philanthropy and the impact that they can achieve.
I think with philanthropy, ultimately giving is a lot of the time an expression of their purest values, so that always has to be taken into account when I start talking to families. The starting point for me is often really just trying to understand, you know, what they personally want to get out of it, which they may or may not have thought about to be honest, because a lot of the time people start with philanthropy thinking about what they can achieve and what they can do, which is great. There is a whole piece around what can philanthropy do and what can we achieve in terms of impact and what are the examples of what’s possible and what does the world need?
That conversation is really important, but it is really important with philanthropy to also get to the core of what does this mean personally to you? And that is going to vary very much between individuals and family members.
Damian Payiatakis: Let me stop you just and go to the point you said about the total portfolio, or the total impact, and the next generation being interested in looking holistically I would say about their capital. I think we’re starting to see that overlap that we’re interested to explore. Why do you think that’s happening?
Juliet Agnew: I think it’s a number of things. I think that one of the criticisms of philanthropy in the past was that it entailed too much heart and not enough head. And I think one of the things that has been happening dramatically over the last 10 years has been a real professionalisation, I guess you could say, of the philanthropy sector, such that there is a recognition that there are global issues that are really intractable and challenging and that require a lot of strategic thought and insight.
But also that the capital of philanthropy is limited in terms of size of funds available globally. Philanthropy can’t really make a change on any one issue like global poverty, for example, or climate change without the collaboration of other types of capital. And so there has been this evolving, more strategic approach with philanthropy and there are many, many more examples now of how philanthropy can collaborate with, influence, even fund private market sectors and solutions in pursuit of global goals.
So there has been this kind of convergence between the heart and the head side of philanthropy, and some of the head type solutions that might come more from the commercial or the private markets for example. And climate change is one of those issues that lends itself quite well to a combination of solutions from philanthropy as well as from private markets.
Damian Payiatakis: It’s interesting. Climate is definitely at the forefront of where capital is going into from a sustainable investing perspective. In fact, we do see that almost being the starting point of many conversations. Sometimes it starts from a risk perspective and then it goes into, how can we contribute to solutions that actually have potential return opportunities for us? But that broad-brush view of climate being something that I think, because there’s so much greater awareness these days, and actually, unfortunately, some of the physical effects we’re starting to see globally more and more, it’s at the forefront of people’s minds when they’re thinking about their investing.
Let me rewind a little bit. You touched upon philanthropy evolving over time and I think it’s really interesting to look if families want to combine these two and have a better sense of where the origins are or where the relationship between these two have been. And I have to say one thing from a sustainable investing perspective, having been in the field for about a decade is actually I think many people don’t recognise how much of the origin of impact and sustainable investing actually relies on the philanthropic movement.
When you actually look at where, even if people were doing this before, where the original term was coined, who was promoting it, the idea was fundamentally to say, well, we’ve got this philanthropic capital that we could potentially use to invest and let’s think about what are the options that we have to do it and that idea of investing for impact was a starting point. And then what’s interesting to me is that these two fields have sort of progressed almost in parallel and separately for a bit of time over the last 10 or 12 years, let’s say.
And sometimes there’s touchpoints between them, but I’m curious on how you’ve seen from a philanthropic perspective the view of sustainable investing, what it is today and how it’s evolved over the last decade or so.
Juliet Agnew: I think that it is an interesting evolution. So traditionally, historically, particularly if you have a kind of foundation set-up where you have endowed assets and then you give them away, there has been this traditional almost tension between the desire to be the stewards of that capital and govern that capital for the future versus the desire to give away and a slightly different mindset when it comes to the giving away.
And we definitely have seen an evolution over time towards donors thinking more about, hang on a second, does it make sense to be giving away without thinking about how our investing may be undermining perhaps some of our giving intentions. So that has definitely been evolving and we’re also just seeing many interesting examples these days of blended type finance, where you have philanthropy used in various ways to unlock market solutions or fill gaps where markets can’t exist but then potentially building the evidence and creating the infrastructure so private markets can come in and scale.
So I think that these things have been evolving and I think that from the philanthropy community, again making a generalisation here, but I think that the philanthropy community recognises that it is a good thing that people are thinking a little bit more sustainably about their investments and that there is a place for all of these types of tools in the toolbox.
I think that there are still many, many challenges, but there is a recognition generally that good practice obviously in philanthropy is, at least, for your investments not to be undermining your intentions when it comes to your giving goals and, at best, if they can work together and enhance each other and mutually reinforce each other, that would be ideal.
Damian Payiatakis: So, that’s interesting to hear how things have evolved at an industry level or a field level. Let’s bring this back to the families and to the advisers and bring it to life. I’m remembering an email that you sent to me recently about a client you were having a conversation with, a multigenerational family, UK, fashion family.
And the interest that, one of the family members, he’d been doing some philanthropy and wanted to start bringing in and understanding where the investing could benefit some of the outcomes that he was trying to generate. Can you provide a vignette, in terms of the conversation we were having?
Juliet Agnew: It was a really interesting case actually for a number of reasons which I’ll share. This was a family who’d been doing philanthropy for a while, as you mentioned, through a family foundation, so we were really just having a catch-up and talking about how things were going and what they were finding challenging. We were talking about the dynamics within a family, some of the issues that we’ve talked about here, about how you appreciate that everyone’s coming from a different place and how you make sure that everyone’s values are recognised and there’s a degree of autonomy in the foundation.
But in doing that, he’d suddenly recently realised that social investment and impact investing could be something that he would be interested in. And what I thought was really interesting about that is first of all, they’d been giving for a long time. And so I see this as quite typical, I tend not to see people coming in right at the beginning talking about sustainable investing. They tend to have been on a journey, have learnt quite a lot and then start asking about these different types of tools that could be used. So I thought that was interesting.
But the other thing that was really interesting, there were a couple of things. One was that he’s doing it outside of his endowment, so really using the funds that have been budgeted for giving away, to start to experiment with impact investing and sustainable investing, which is one approach that can be taken which avoids part of the tension that we mentioned before which you can get around stewarding the capital and the endowment.
So it just kind of bypasses that if you can experiment with the grant-making funds. So that’s one thing. And then the other thing that I thought was really interesting was that I asked him what prompted him to start thinking about this and it was his financial adviser who’d raised it as an option of something to think about. And for me that was just fascinating because it just, for me, reminds us again and again about who is advising and the role of the adviser in prompting that thinking about sustainable investing.
Sometimes donors just haven’t really thought about it that much, and so having the right adviser just ask is this something you’ve thought about can set someone off on a whole journey.
Damian Payiatakis: It’s amazing how some of the simplest questions actually lead to the biggest change in terms of how people see the world and what they can do. Let’s go into it a little bit more because it’s fascinating to me to then think, so the family’s been giving capital away for quite a long time, obviously has a cause or a topic that’s close to their hearts. The idea of investing, though, what does that add to what they were hoping to achieve that they couldn’t do, if you will, through the philanthropy?
Juliet Agnew: I think in this case, it was recognising that the issue that they were choosing to address had multiple facets to it, and that when they got really into the root causes and the deeper issues within the cause area, they realised that there was some challenge around the empowerment of the individual.
So in this case, they were interested in social enterprise and enterprise as being a catalyst for individual empowerment. And that was the starting point to think about that’s interesting, so it’s not just about handouts, this is potentially about a leg up and a belief that enterprise could play a role there in helping people to have a hand up in life and feel empowered. So, in this case, it was an interest in actually investing in social enterprise, which led to a conversation about the various ways that you could support social enterprise other than just giving grants.
Damian Payiatakis: Absolutely. And it brings up a great point that you mentioned before about blended finance, because I can imagine that there are ways that, if we go deeper just here on social enterprise, that some capital that is purely philanthropic and grant-based can be hugely valuable to get early-stage social enterprises up to a stage where they’re ready to take on repayable capital. And that’s definitely one of the things that we’ve seen in the sustainable investing world, where the intersection or the overlap of grant-giving and investing actually comes to be much more powerful than just one or the other.
So let me go back again to our report. So, one of the questions we had asked was about barriers to starting or increasing impact investing, and when we asked those who were only involved in philanthropy or only involved in traditional investing, we found about a third of the respondents in both cases stated this preference to separate the activities for social benefit from those activities for financial return.
And it seems like that individual had overcome this, this starting point, the barrier. I’m curious what may have triggered that, and do you see that sort of continued separation for families and certainly in the foundation or endowment space continuing on?
Juliet Agnew: That’s interesting. I think there’s probably a couple of triggers really. One is the trigger, if you can call it that, of just becoming a bit more sophisticated and having a more nuanced understanding of your cause area and the various ways that you can try to tackle root causes of an issue.
The other thing, which was an obvious trigger, was an adviser raising it with this individual. And I think the third one if I, again this may or may not have happened but I’m assuming probably has happened, is just that there are a lot more examples out there. There’s a lot more sustainable investing, blended finance type work happening.
So when you start to get into philanthropy, you go on this journey and you start to see what others are doing and I believe the philanthropy community is doing a good job these days of highlighting good examples of good practice. There are lots of pioneering foundations out there doing some really interesting work in this space and those examples are being shared. So I think also the trigger is just seeing more of it.
Damian Payiatakis: I think that’s similar in terms of where sustainable investing has grown. The trigger for many people is the wider awareness of what’s going on in the world, but also a very simple awareness of your capital generates an impact. Once you have that realisation, then all of a sudden you can’t see the world any differently anymore and start to say, well, what impact do I want it to have and what are the possibilities that exist?
Juliet Agnew: And I just would jump in there to almost amplify what you were saying. I see that mindset take hold a lot more commonly with the younger generation. They tend to be there a bit more in terms of just a starting point for thinking about wealth and lifestyle and impact of their everyday investing, consuming, spending on the world around them.
Damian Payiatakis: So let’s get back to our starting question, the idea of aligning sustainable investing and philanthropy. One of the things from the survey, we found 68% of people agreed with the statement that impact investing and philanthropy should be used jointly on the same issues to generate impact. And I’m curious, are you seeing that and within the family? Why are there reasons for aligning these pieces?
Juliet Agnew: For me the obvious thing, and this is a very intellectual thing but it’s an obvious one, is that you can achieve more impact if your investments are aligned with your philanthropy to some degree. At the very minimum, at least if your investments are not undermining your giving goals as we’ve discussed.
But beyond that also, if philanthropy and investments can work together, focusing on the same kind of cause areas or even actually blending capital sometimes to derisk issues, for example, for others or help to think about how to leverage and attract more finance, they can work really, really well together and that can obviously increase your societal impact.
But there’s also a case for starting as a family with values and taking the time to think about your collective values, and then thinking about the tools that you have in your toolbox to address and support and live out those values in the world. And the actual process of going through that can be deeply, deeply enriching and satisfying. So I think that that, for me, is a really strong case as well for thinking about them together.
Damian Payiatakis: We’re touching on preparing the next generation to take on more family responsibility and interestingly from the report, we found 80% believe that involving the next generation in impact investing would prepare them, and 83% said involving them in philanthropy would prepare them as well. So a strong case in both for doing this.
Again, if we know that there may be a benefit in doing these things individually, what are some of the barriers to bringing them together in terms of aligning the two tools?
Juliet Agnew: Part of it is to do with just the divergence in terms of, you know, individual personality styles of giving or investing attitudes, mindsets, drivers. So I think any kind of coming together as a family to try to align and compromise around these kinds of issues can be fraught with challenge. So just the overwhelm and actually the process of going through that can be a bit of a barrier.
I think as I mentioned before there’s also this split that often exists if you have a philanthropy or if you have a foundation structure, there can be a pre-existing split that exists between those that are thinking more about the giving and the giving mindset and those that are thinking about the stewardship of capital.
So that can create challenges. I think that not having adequate skills, because the skills of the space in between skills are really necessary. You know, you need to be thinking about the financial skills alongside the impact focus skills if you are going to move further towards having a co-ordinated strategy for thinking about investing and philanthropy.
And those skills will often need to be brought in from outside. So actually thinking through where you can get that advice or how those skills can be found or brought in – if those skills don’t exist, it’ll be a barrier.
Damian Payiatakis: It’s interesting. From the conversations, many times it’s how do we get started on sustainable investing? People are looking for the knowledge and the advice and the skills to navigate the field.
And it’s interesting to hear that that will be part of the challenge for people who have established philanthropic activities in endowments to now start bringing in the investing side. You touched on a frame earlier of head and heart and I think oftentimes, we tend to make those things individual both in terms of the individuals who represent them, but also in terms of the activities.
And again, this is where I think the connection between the two, or strengthening the connection between the two, could be really powerful from an investing perspective, understanding that you have certain objectives with your wealth and what is the best way to go about doing that from an intellectual perspective, but what is the way that feels most comfortable to you. And then obviously from a philanthropic effort perspective, you’re starting off it sounds very internally, sort of what are the things that matter to us and then what is the best way that we go about doing those in terms of using our capital.
Let’s talk about getting started, finally. You know, we’ve heard or started to build a little bit of a case of the benefits of doing this from an investing perspective or a family intergenerational dynamics perspective. If you wanted to get started to align family values with philanthropy, what can an individual start doing? What would be the tips or the ideas that you’d share?
Juliet Agnew: So I think for me we’ve said, you’ve used this word a lot, but it comes back to starting with values. So I think families should be starting with thinking about and talking about shared values and talking about styles and interests. It’s really a process of understanding each other, recognising the starting point for each individual, and also recognising that each individual brings unique perspectives, skills, interests and that that’s OK and potentially a positive thing.
The second thing then is to think about goals and really what they want to achieve. Obviously from a philanthropy perspective, we’re talking very much about societally what do we want to achieve with this contribution. And I think it’s good practice to think about how investments can contribute to that. So in the first instance, obviously as we’ve mentioned, not undermining societal goals when it comes to philanthropy, but also whether those around the table have the appetite to go further and, if so, who does and who may not.
So trying to get a sense of where people are on that spectrum, the appetite and recognising that there may be variances, whether you invest for societal positive outcomes from your endowment or whether you do that from your grant portfolio, or whether you allocate a certain amount of your portfolio to being more impact focused, but the majority to protect new capital. So some of these things will be influenced by the appetite that exists within the family.
And then the third thing is just understanding what’s possible. So recognising that you don’t really need to do this on your own. There are so many examples out there, pioneering foundations, for example, who are paving the way in this space with their mixed portfolio approaches using investing alongside philanthropy.
So just not getting stuck in trying to figure this out on your own, but bringing in expertise, looking at examples and just allowing yourself to be inspired by the really amazing work that other people are doing in this space.
Damian Payiatakis: That’s great, three very specific actions that families can take. Let me pick up the first one though. You talked about aligning families in terms of how they’re thinking about these things which sounds easy. I think we all know can be incredibly difficult.
I’m curious what you’ve seen work in the efforts to align families where, you know, if you were a next gen saying, do you know what, I need to influence, you know, the older generations who might have more of that traditional mindset which does want to separate these two things out. What would you say or what have you said to them to start to build that bridge between the different generations and how to do that?
Juliet Agnew: I think actually having some kind of external facilitation is almost always a key. I think it’s quite difficult to do on your own because, you know, people revert to roles within a family quite quickly. Having some kind of external support can often work really well just to help families make sure that there are ground rules in communication, but that equal respect is given to everyone round the table so that people have equal opportunities to listen to each other.
It’s really about listening, and understanding, and taking that time in the beginning to listen and to understand. And only then, I think, can you start to find a path forward and think about whether as a family, you know, as some families do, they find great compromise and they’re able to agree on a strategy going forward. And in other cases, quite frankly, it works better if there’s a degree of autonomy, so family members are allowed a degree of autonomy when it comes to decision-making.
Damian Payiatakis: That’s great, and maybe just to bring this to life, one example I know that I had, was talking to a next generation female Hong Kong family member who wanted to get her family to be more interested in sustainability generally. And getting the visibility and access around the family table, and actually also with the advisers, was a challenge for her.
So talking about her taking on or providing investment opportunity that actually had value to the family business, and this was actually a water-saving effort, demonstrated the value from a sustainability perspective with something the family cared about, but also demonstrated the investing side. And it started to build a little bit of credibility for her to demonstrate both her role, but also the value of this approach to thinking about the wealth the family had, the operating business and actually what they were trying to do.
Have you seen other lessons from other family members? You talked about some examples. Do any spring to mind in terms of where you’ve seen a family member use their investing or their philanthropy in an interesting way?
Juliet Agnew: Some of the most interesting examples I’ve seen is when the next generation have been allowed to carve out some independence to do some interesting things within the foundation structure.
And I think I find that interesting because the next generation that I have seen have sometimes been a bit more progressive, more willing to test and innovate and get into some challenging issues, you know, get involved in slightly different causes and slightly different approaches. This can really allow the next generation to shine and just to demonstrate their unique perspectives and their unique potential contributions.
I think it can be very difficult if a family is trying to converge on only one way of doing things, and one of the best things about philanthropy is its ability to be very flexible and to reflect the unique and diverse talents of the people that are behind it.
Damian Payiatakis: That’s fascinating. You talked about autonomy versus compromise or collaboration I think, and that is a choice that people have to make I think with their philanthropic activity, but also with their investing activity. I think what’s more interesting, as we’re talking about it, is how do we start to connect these things together in terms of the philanthropic activity in a family relative to their investing, or even their operating business as well.
So, Juliet, any other lessons from what you’ve seen to take away in terms of trying to get this alignment between investing and philanthropy?
Juliet Agnew: We have to recognise that people go on a journey with their philanthropy and people start from different places, and we need to make sure that there is space for all kinds of approaches in philanthropy. And whilst we can share best practices and encourage people to think about some of the considerations that we’ve laid out today, it’s important to recognise that there is no one way to do things and that it’s much more important that people are asking themselves the right questions as they go on this journey, rather than actually just trying to fit into a particular box of one way of doing things.
Damian Payiatakis: Fantastic. Well, we’ve had some fascinating insights today, I think, drawn out by the report but also highlighted from Juliet.
Thank you so much for your time. I think for me, a few things to take away. Very clearly, we can see in terms of that original question of should we be aligning our philanthropy and impact investing more closely together as a family, there are good reasons to do that. We see similar motivations for both of these areas. We do think that the tools are potentially complementary in terms of some of the different approaches that we’re seeing.
I have to say, I think sustainable investing still has a lot to learn from philanthropy as well, in terms of both where its origin has come from, but also things that we haven’t touched on, impact measurement, in terms of the idea of aligning family values and actually bringing them to the fore. I think there’s ultimately a case to be made in terms of bringing families together in terms of the intergenerational wealth preparedness and also a transfer that we expect to be seeing.
But let’s be realistic. This is not an easy journey and certainly when we think about the traditional mindsets that many family members or their family advisers may still have, overcoming them is going to be a challenge.
But ultimately if the question we have is, should these things be aligned? I think the answer we come to is definitely something for families to explore where they want to generate more impact and the responsibility that they may feel to make a positive contribution to the world.
Thank you again, Juliet, for your time and your insights and, moreover, to our listeners. We certainly hope that you’ve found the discussion insightful and a good introduction to our ‘Investing for Global Impact’ report. Please look out for the other podcasts bringing in more fascinating speakers to discuss how you can generate more positive impact with family capital.
Integrating a family’s philanthropy and investing is often a journey rather than a single step. Taking a strategic approach and building a family legacy is a deeply personal, and sometimes challenging process. It requires balancing a myriad of factors from what the world needs, to your own circumstances and motivations. But it can be enormously enriching – both for you and society at large.
To find out more, you can read to our 'Aligning family philanthropy and investing for impact' article, visit our dedicated Investing for Global Impact hub, or download the full report.
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