Region's ultra rich 'keen on impact investing'

As Singapore moves to nurture a more "giving culture", a new report says ultra-rich and family businesses in the Asia-Pacific are becoming more engaged in philanthropy.

More funds across the region are expected to be channelled into "impact investing", said the Credit Suisse report released yesterday.

Impact investing puts capital into enterprises that generate beneficial social or environmental impact alongside financial return. The report says it is different to conventional philanthropy, which involves straight-out donations without expectation of any financial return.

Impact investment is set to account for 44 per cent of Asia-Pacific ultra high net worth (UHNW) individuals' capital allocation in 2018, up from 33 per cent today. Three years ago, it was 30 per cent.

The majority of UHNW people in the survey had wealth of more than US$50 million (S$71 million).

Announcing the findings at the 5th Credit Suisse Philanthropists Forum yesterday, the bank said many foundations in Asia are keen to embrace "high-engagement and high-impact giving".

UHNW individuals are also moving away from direct donations, to areas such as social entrepreneurship and venture philanthropy, said Mr Benjamin Cavalli, the bank's market area head of South-east Asia and Singapore location head, private banking, at the forum held at the Fullerton Bay Hotel.

The survey, jointly conducted with Campden Wealth Research, polled 30 family businesses, with half of them in the financial services and real estate industry.

Over one-third (35.7 per cent) of those polled were from Hong Kong, with family businesses from India accounting for about 14 per cent of respondents. The rest came from Singapore (10.7 per cent), Australia, Thailand, the Philippines and Nepal. Some Asia-Pacific businesses were based in Britain and the US.

Credit Suisse said the findings showed that 68 per cent of the family businesses consider impact investing to be a separate asset class.

But philanthropy is not just for the rich, said Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan- Jin, who delivered the keynote address at the forum.

"It is for anyone who wants to do good and all of us can play a part. When we reach out to give and to care for other people, that is where we reconnect with our own sense of humanity and our compassion."

Mr Tan highlighted initiatives to encourage a giving culture in Singapore, such as the Giving.sg online platform for individuals and corporations interested in donating, volunteering or pledging. A national movement - The Giving Week - will also be launched next month.

He urged companies to step up efforts in encouraging employees to volunteer, by organising more volunteering activities and "giving staff paid time off to do good".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 18, 2015, with the headline 'Region's ultra rich 'keen on impact investing''. Print Edition | Subscribe