60-second interview with Gina Pereira

Gina M Pereira , 16/2/2017

Gina M Pereira TEP is a lawyer and founder and CEO of Dana Philanthropy LLC, which has offices in Bermuda, Los Angeles and Toronto. 

What does your firm do?

Dana Philanthropy is a donor advisory firm specialising in cross-border philanthropy and social enterprise. We provide philanthropists with the support they need to make informed and strategic social investments. Our advisory services to international private clients and corporations encompasses strategy development, structuring charitable vehicles, research on philanthropic issues, due diligence, negotiation of philanthropic donations, and monitoring and reporting on programme performance.

What has STEP done for you, individually, or as a business?

As a trust and estates lawyer and philanthropy advisor, STEP has provided me with on-going education and kept me abreast of developments throughout my career. It has also given me the opportunity to develop a strong network of professional private client advisors.

What is the most important thing STEP does, in your opinion?

STEP keeps its membership well informed about industry developments and provides strong networking opportunities.

You recently recorded a webcast for STEP. What was the subject and why is this important?

I explored the implications of the OECD’s Common Reporting Standard (CRS) on charities. CRS places obligations on financial institutions based in signatory states. Financial institutions must identify their account holders (which may include, in part, settlors and beneficiaries) and make reports on them to their local tax authority. That information is then exchanged with the respective signatory country.

Unlike FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act), CRS includes charities, which are tasked with additional due diligence and reporting requirements. Charities that assist vulnerable groups which are under threat in their home countries (eg political critics, LGBT, or minority religious groups) may find themselves in a moral bind about revealing the identity of such beneficiaries. They may also find it so challenging to track and record beneficiary demographics - including tax residency - that it could deter them from operating internationally.

Given that the CRS was designed with a more conventional financial relationship in mind, the extent to which it will succeed in combating abuse of charities is uncertain. Even less certain is whether potential success will outweigh the risk of harm.

What do you most like about your job?

Acting as a conduit for social investors and agents of change.

.. and what do you feel is most worthwhile?

Advocating for the merging of sustainable development with for-profit ventures.

What would you say to a young person thinking of a career in this industry?

I would suggest that ‘doing good’ and making money are not mutually exclusive; nor is sustainable development achieved at the expense of profitability. I encourage advisors and fiduciaries to look at the evidence showing the impact of strong corporate environmental, social and governance policies on financial performance, particularly in the mid to long term.

Where do you see future growth, both in terms of sectors and jurisdictions?

Globalisation has concentrated economic power within a small group of large companies which are now able to change the world at a scale which used to be reserved for nations. Half of the world’s top 100 economies are businesses, and 200 global firms account for more than a quarter of the world’s economic activity. I envisage a decline in government coffers and capacity, prompting increased corporate responsibility toward sustainable development. As not-for-profits see a decline in government funding, they will need to rely on private donations, and engage in activities that produce revenue for sustainability.

Greater levels of transparency will drive all sectors toward more accountability, and reputation management will become ever more important. Governments will continue to be pressured to commit to international agreements targeting sustainable development. Stronger environmental, social and governance policies will be implemented directly into corporate business models, and institutional investors will increasingly integrate these kinds of metrics in their investment strategies.

Nation states and corporations will continue to rely on civil society to help meet their commitments, and civil society will continue to act as watchdogs. Philanthropic funding will be in part redirected toward start-up social enterprises. Increased regulation in the charitable sector will stifle its impact, as resources will be diverted from charitable programmes towards compliance.

These relative certainties will reshape the landscape, forcing greater cross-sector collaboration.

What do you feel are the main challenges facing your organisation at the moment, and how will you deal with them?

While institutional investing is progressing in the realm of responsible investing, private wealth management generally lags behind. The prevailing approach to traditional charity and corporate social responsibility is fragmented and disconnected from business strategy. This approach obscures the visibility of business opportunities within fundamental issues confronting society that could reveal profitable innovations. By analysing and addressing the root causes of existing core business challenges, we can identify underlying societal problems, that if addressed, may lead to new sources of competitive advantage. This challenge will be dealt with through continued outreach and advocacy.

 

Gina M Pereira TEP is a lawyer and founder and CEO of Dana Philanthropy LLC, which has offices in Bermuda, Los Angeles and Toronto. A TEP since 2005 and member of the Philanthropy Advisors SIG Steering Committee, Gina is a published author, a regular journal contributor, and a speaker at international conferences.