Family offices can support innovation, sustainable finance, philanthropy in S'pore: DPM Wong

DPM Lawrence Wong at the inaugural Global-Asia Family Office Summit owners’ symposium at The St Regis hotel on Sept 29. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE - There are opportunities for family offices to support innovative companies in Singapore and to contribute to sustainable finance and philanthropy here, said Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong.

During the inaugural Global-Asia Family Office Summit's owners' symposium at The St Regis Singapore hotel on Thursday, Mr Wong said family offices can tap an ecosystem of private equity and venture capital firms that are focused on the region.

He said: "We are now home to one of the fastest-growing start-up communities in the world, including game-changing solutions in areas like agri-tech, fintech and biotech.

"And within Singapore itself, you have access to many exciting opportunities around us, which is why we are home to the world's highest concentration of Asian Asean-focused private equity and venture capital firms...

"There is no lack of resources to help bring innovative ideas to market, and many opportunities for family offices to invest alongside capable and sophisticated partners."

A family office is a private firm that manages investments and assets for a particular wealthy family. Some firms may serve a few clients.

Mr Wong said family offices can help mentor promising entrepreneurs and nurture the next generation of business leaders, beyond just investing in innovative companies.

He also noted the substantial increase in the number of family offices globally over the last 20 years, which he said reflects the growth in global wealth in recent decades, as well as a desire by families to professionalise how their wealth is managed.

Mr Wong added that Singapore has benefited from these global trends, with the number of family offices here at about 700, compared with five years ago, when there were fewer than 100.

He said that Singapore is a good launch pad for family offices to support the global net-zero agenda, especially in the areas of sustainable and transition finance.

He also added that there are opportunities for family offices to help scale up blended finance structures to fund climate transition projects in the region.

He said: "We all know that Asia is the key battleground for the fight against climate change... but there is a financing gap because the projects are not fully bankable.

"However, these projects are crucial in order to help countries in the region meet their climate goals, and they present huge investment opportunities."

He cited the example of Gunung Capital, a single family office based in Singapore that has committed $500 million to environmental, social and governance assets, with a focus on clean energy infrastructure, industrial transition and carbon mitigation.

As part of this effort, Gunung Capital has helped its portfolio company modernise its steel manufacturing business, making use of efficient equipment to cut down consumption while increasing output, Mr Wong said.

On the philanthropic front, he said the Government is reviewing its tax incentive schemes to see how it can encourage family offices to give more, and support local charities and non-profit entities.

The Wealth Management Institute, Monetary Authority of Singapore and the Private Banking Industry Group are also working to establish the Impact Philanthropy Partnership, which will bring together family principals and offices to tackle society's most pressing challenges and issues, said Mr Wong.

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