During the pandemic, Amy Lo has found that conversations with clients quickly take a philosophical turn.
“We have been seeing increasing interest in philanthropy and family succession planning because clients have time to really think about the purpose of life,” she says.
Lo recalls receiving urgent queries from families who wanted to give back to local organisations supporting the needy during Hong Kong’s fifth wave. She has also observed some striking generational differences: elder clients tend to prioritise improving wellbeing and poverty alleviation in their hometown communities, while young family members tend to take a more global outlook and focus on trends like sustainability, impact investing and social finance.
“We can play the role of convenor to gather the family to map out the strategy,” says Lo. “Families should listen to all members and try to accommodate the aspirations of different generations and develop a governance framework so that all members can contribute.”
It’s a role that UBS is uniquely well positioned to play. With wealth management being UBS’s core business for 160 years, it has more than 100 full-time, dedicated experts in philanthropy and family succession around the globe. UBS also offers UBS Optimus Foundation, a platform where clients can use their wealth to drive positive social and environmental change. It is the only foundation linked to a global wealth manager staffed with dedicated philanthropy experts.
Walking the talk is critically important, and it’s very powerful that I can share with clients the real experience we have through our foundation— Amy Lo
“Walking the talk is critically important, and it’s very powerful that I can share with clients the real experience we have through our foundation,” says Lo. In 2021 alone, UBS Optimus Foundation made US$17.6 million in grants in Greater China and US$27.7 million in APAC, primarily to benefit children’s health and education.
In addition, together with UBS 100 per cent matching, UBS Optimus Foundation has raised US$34 million through the Covid-19 Response Fund to support 48 partners across 35 countries. The foundation has also supported the global vaccine response through a joint fundraising initiative with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that supplies Covid-19 vaccines to people in low- and lower-middle-income countries. UBS Optimus Foundation provides a 20 per cent match to any donation, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation provides a further 100 per cent match.
Lo admires Melinda French Gates as a philanthropist for her work to support women in male-dominated fields and for her commitment to changing the world by doing more than writing cheques. “That is the difference between charity and philanthropy: charity often stops at writing cheques for a good cause whereas philanthropy is a journey which includes measuring the success of your impact.”