Asia Pacific's wealthy enjoyed 8% returns on investment last year, gave back more too

SINGAPORE - Wealthy Asian families with investment structures called family offices enjoyed handsome returns of about 8 per cent on their investments last year, a report by private bank UBS and Campden Wealth Research shows.

But they also gave back more too, increasing their philanthropic donations.

These Asia Pacific family offices are focused on growth strategies, their study found, and their outperformance against benchmarks was attributed to significant allocations of their portfolios to direct investments, such as real estate and private equity, and smaller allocations to capital markets such as stocks.

The study looked at 40 Asia Pacific family offices with an average size of US$480 million in assets under management.

In total, these Asia Pacific family offices manage over US$20 billion in private wealth.

"While Asia Pacific performance lagged slightly behind offices domiciled in Europe and North America, our research attributed this largely to holdings of developing economy equities and fixed income, which last year were surpassed by the meteoric rise of developed-economy equities," said Mr Dominic Samuelson, the chief executive officer of Campden Wealth.

Asia Pacific offices also reported higher operating costs than global counterparts, which were largely a result of a regional focus on costly, growth-oriented investment strategies, he added.

The study also found that philanthropy is an increasingly important function for family offices in Asia Pacific: a third of the family offices surveyed have endowments of at least US$15 million, with many focused on education and healthcare.

Giving in Asia Pacific increased by 10 per cent since last year, with 77 per cent of family offices in the region reporting some form of philanthropic engagement, placing the region on par with developing economy giving and slightly behind North American rates.

Ten percent of Asia-Pacific offices reported endowments greater than $50 million.