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4 May 2022, 14:17
We speak to Sophie Ward, Head of Charities and Education at HSBC Global Private Banking, about the new purpose of wealth, how charities are viewing their investments in a post-Covid world, and what advice she offers finance leaders in the space.
HSBC Global Private Banking are sponsoring CFG's Annual Conference 2022 on 30 June. The theme for this year is 'Purposeful and Empowering'. What does this mean to you?
These words mean providing charity clients with confidence both around making investment decisions, and how those decisions will support their organisation’s charitable objectives.
Are charities viewing their investments differently in 2022?
Interestingly, we’re seeing a number of foundations begin to make plans to spend down their capital at a much faster pace. So rather than existing in perpetuity, they’re actually looking at how they can have the most impact over the next 10 years. They are considering whether they will have a greater impact in the long term if they have more of an impact supporting people today. That’s an interesting gear change.
We’re also seeing a focus on the link between the charity’s purpose and its portfolio. People are examining the nuances of sustainable investment. They aren’t just thinking about negative screening, instead they are looking at the likes of overall carbon reduction and social issues. Generally, they are beginning to think a lot more deeply about the role of the portfolio.
We are seeing a shift towards increased allocation to private equity. Owing to the fact that we’ll see lower returns from equity markets than we have over the last decade, I think we’ll witness organisations become more willing to take an illiquidity premium and investing in private equity and other diversifying asset classes.
Has the purpose of wealth changed?
We’re definitely seeing a shift in how our charity clients view their finances. Today, they are often thinking about how they can support their charitable objectives throughout the whole financial chain, in addition to their fiduciary duties. They are looking at future generations and beneficiaries, and how they can sustain them.
They are also considering voting and engagement, and sustainability aspects – especially now that climate change is the number one fiduciary risk in financial markets over the long term.
How has this changed how HSBC works with its clients?
The investment landscape is always evolving. We’ve seen this with the rapid growth in popularity of sustainable investment products over the last two years. But here at HSBC, we’ve been integrating responsible investment for over 20 years through our Asset Management business.
Where we’re beginning to see real movement is when it comes to working with organisations around climate change, so looking at overall carbon reduction and aligning portfolios to Paris-aligned benchmarks in order to meet net zero targets.
How can charity finance leaders help when it comes to more purposeful investments?
I think that charity finance teams need to feel empowered to ask questions and to challenge their investment managers. They should take the time to have in-depth reviews in order to make sure they fully understand some of the voting, engagement and sustainability activities that are happening on their behalf, alongside market updates. By having a real interest in what’s happening, they will be better informed about future risks and opportunities.
About Sophie WardSophie runs the Charities & Education team at HSBC Global Private Banking, working with charitable organisations on their investments, including how to weave sustainable and ethical requirements into their portfolios. She has been with HSBC Global Private Banking since 2010 and is a Chartered Wealth Manager. Sophie is also responsible for driving volunteering engagement between local organisations and HSBC employees across the UK. She is a senior volunteer at Crisis Christmas and out of the office is usually found surfing or trail running.
About HSBC Global Private BankingHSBC Private Banking manages £310bn of investment assets globally and £13.2bn in UK, including £800m for UK charities. HSBC's specialist team work with charities, schools and universities on their investment management and provision of lending against investment portfolios.
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