Talking Philanthropy Conference 2018


Kleinwort Hambros recently co-hosted the “Talking Philanthropy” Conference with our partners Global Philanthropic at London’s Royal Automobile Club on Pall Mall.

Delegates were welcomed by Global Philanthropic’s Chairman, Seymour Banks, and Rebecca Constable, Director of Private Banking and Head of Philanthropy at Kleinwort Hambros, at the event which focused on Wealth Transition & Women in Philanthropy.

Here, we share some insights into some of the presentations on the day:

In the symposium’s opening address, Jon Needham, Societe Generale Private Banking’s Head of Trust and Fiduciary Services, talked about wealth transition trends and noted that, since the 2008 financial crisis, attitudes to giving have changed – families have become focused on sustainability rather than returns focused. He also flagged in his presentation that $2.1 trillion will transfer from billionaires to the next generation in the next 20 years.

The day also addressed the role of women in philanthropy with a lively panel chaired by Kirsty Lang, which included Dr Helen Pankhurst, Rafia Qureshi, Patricia Zurita and Diane Fox Carney.  One of the key messages was that we still need more women on boards and those on boards of charities should also be invited on to boards of commercial venture  and their expertise should be recognised.

The areas covered over the course of the day were wide ranging and included: 

  • Becoming more involved in philanthropy – giving your time and expertise - and not simply writing a cheque
  • Transitional wealth and the issues surrounding inheritance
  • Gaining local insight to access new areas of wealth to support philanthropy
  • The importance of women and millennials in philanthropy


The event reached a peak with Dame Stephanie and Chan, explaining their respective approaches to charity. Dame Stephanie Shirley and The Honourable Ronnie Chan are both relentless in their giving, together accounting for hundreds of million in charitable donations. Their macro generosity is based on micro thinking and they offered the audience with a nuanced approach to what is philanthropy on an industrial scale.

Dame Stephanie, well known for her support of causes related to autism, confided that her most recent donation been an unconditional gift. Her approach to philanthropy is, she admitted, usually to seek causes where her involvement can be more than just writing a cheque. Yet with her most recent gift, she uncharacteristically opted to remain hands off and now reflects that the money has been subsequently used to support aspects of the particular cause, which she might not have thought would have ranked high as a priority. Moreover, having long been averse to gracing a building, she has supported a lecture theatre, which will be named in her honour.  Her view is that the gesture will shine added light on the cause of autism.

Ronnie Chan, rightly revered for his family’s $350 million donation in 2014 to the University of Harvard, sought to address one of the symposium’s main themes, namely transitional wealth. In sharing his family’s experience, he provided a deeply personal insight into the humbleness of the approach he, his brothers and their father adopted towards philanthropy. In particular, he stressed the importance of appreciating fully the value of money. “If money is just about the zeros then your children will not become good philanthropists,” Chan suggested. Transitional wealth is a problem that dates back over 3,000 years, Chan reasoned. “Money corrupts,” he maintained. “Serious money seriously corrupts.” If you can install in your children an appreciation of the value of money then money to them will never just be a number, he added.

The Chan family’s own extraordinary donation to Harvard – a show stopper in exactly the same way that Chan’s insightful address was at the symposium - was a reflection of the Chinese preference for supporting causes that work towards the health and well-being of others. The $350 million gift to the Harvard School for Public Health was ultimately, Chan argued, a gift to mankind, to help couch against the growing threats to the world as a whole of dangers such as global pandemic.

Summing up the event, Kleinwort Hambros’ Head of Philanthropy, Rebecca Constable, said: “We were thrilled to co-host such an influential and thought provoking day.  It is our continued aim to support our clients who wish to structure their giving so that their generosity is as effective as possible. The event today is just one of a number of initiatives to help our clients to evaluate the strategic challenges around giving.

“With our privileged position of working in partnership with the leading philanthropic advisers at Global Philanthropic, the day associated Kleinwort Hambros and Societe Generale at the forefront of the developments in the giving revolution that is taking place.  This is widely publicised in the US via the ‘Giving Pledge’ and is gaining momentum in Europe and Asia as wealth transitions across generations.”