Wealthy Brits refocus portfolios ethically ‘with urgency’

High-net worth families have been directing their portfolios towards sustainable and philanthropic causes “with urgency”, a director in RBC Wealth Management’s fiduciary specialist team has said.

Sarajane Kempster told FTAdviser: “In a recent trustee meeting with a wealthy family to review the year-end position of their trust portfolios, discussions turned to how their portfolios were geared towards supporting sustainable and philanthropic causes. 

“As we know, people in all walks of life are tuning in to climate change and social inequality and looking to play their part.

“What is interesting however, is the increased sense of urgency we are seeing in this regard.”

This particular family wanted to know how RBC could restructure the trust’s investments to support the family’s evolving wishes over the coming year, the impact this would have in the world, how RBC would measure and track progress and they wanted to know all of this “very quickly”, Kempster said.

According to the director: “This scenario is now far from uncommon among ultra-high-net-worth clients and their families. 

“The severity of climate change in particular has become a key focus, especially following discussions held at the recent UN Cop26 Conference, and families are working closely with their trustees to establish strict objectives to ensure their values are met, not in the long term, but right now. 

“This significant shift in focus and high levels of engagement towards having a positive impact on the world looks set to continue into 2022 and beyond.”

Kempster, who is based in Jersey, said meetings between families and their Channel Islands’ based trustees have also become increasingly dynamic, interactive and change-oriented.

“[This is] not least as a result of the political, social and environmental backdrop, but is also a result of the increasing participation of younger family members, who now want a seat at the table and to express how they view the world.”

This new generation is extremely respectful of what the family has achieved thus far and is aware of their responsibilities to steward the family wealth for their own children and generations to come, she added, but they also want to see their own objectives and wishes being taken into consideration. 

“Those views include putting a high value on investments that balance profit with purpose. 

“As we continue to work with all family members to manage estate planning and facilitate wealth transfer through the generations, we believe the future is in good hands.”


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