From the editor - Thomas Dumont introduces the issue

Saturday, 01 February 2014

Knock, knock. Who’s there? Euripides. I’m sure you remember the (very) old joke, which ends with the immortal line: ‘Euripides trousers, Eumenides trousers’. ‘Eumenides’ was an early euphemism. The Eumenides – the ‘Kindly Ones’ – were really the Furies, three demons with writhing snakes for hair, a blazing torch in one hand and a whip of scorpions in the other. You get the idea. Not good news. Since they first burst from hell, use of euphemisms has been de rigueur among the nervous. Modern ‘biz-speak’, for instance, is all about ‘opportunities’ and ‘challenges’. By ‘challenges’, people of course mean nightmares. By ‘opportunities’, they mean wonderful business they will never pick up. But this issue focuses on genuine opportunities and – with early-year optimism – almost wholly ignores challenges.

Since the days of Marco Polo, the world has looked towards the Asia Pacific region for its opportunities with a mixture of awe, fascination and respect. In this issue, we again turn east. We also focus, too, on philanthropy. This is no coincidence. In the article by Strategic Philanthropy’s Betsy Brill and Susan Winer (page 52), we read that half of the top ten countries for charitable giving are in the East. Which are they? Have a read and find out.

The central importance of philanthropy among the wealthy is well highlighted in the article by Stonehage’s Tanja Jegger (page 55). David Harvey, our beloved leader, also writes (page 60) about the opportunities for professionals that philanthropy advice offers (while plugging the excellent Philanthropy Advisors SIG). Both Tanja and David emphasise the role philanthropy advice has in enriching and expanding our professional relationships with our high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth clients.

When my daughter became a fundraiser for UNICEF, she initially found herself embarrassed at the prospect of asking people for their money. Over and again throughout this issue, we see demonstrated how wrong that attitude is. US clients, for instance, regard philanthropy as a top priority, 51 per cent citing it as a focus (turn to pages 60–61 for more philanthropy statistics). And the lesson is the same for us advisors, as it was for my daughter. We should not be embarrassed about raising philanthropy as an issue, and about including it in the conversation. We should only be embarrassed about the fact that clients are surprisingly dissatisfied with that conversation. We will do ourselves all a favour if we raise our game on philanthropy. And we will all do ourselves a favour if we look to the East for its opportunities.

This is an excellent issue. If you read nothing else (though of course you will), do turn to Betsy and Susan’s article. The differences between the philanthropic bent of Generations X and Y are intriguing, but I found the recognition the article gives to the importance of women in philanthropy to be particularly informative. And what better example of that than Nina Wang? Richard Norridge tells us (page 39) that she left HKD83 billion (yes, billion) to charitable causes. To the horror of all us professionals, she did so in a will she put together herself. What a will-drafting opportunity missed. Actually, it will be to the horror only of those who advise – those who litigated about its terms after her death will have had no complaints at all concerning the opportunity seized.

But do read the whole issue from cover to cover. There are, as always, riches within. Where else, thanks to Charlie Young and Yvonne O’Byrne (page 45), can you read about wills on webcams and smartphones? Or be reminded of the impact of the one-child family on Chinese succession planning (Regula Huber’s piece on page 41)? You can also compare charitable foundations in Israel (Asher Dovev’s article on page 57) and England and Wales (Ros Harwood’s very useful coverage of practical considerations on page 59). And, if you have never thought of Martyn Gowar and John McEnroe in the same breath (‘You cannot be serious!’ I hear you say), turn to his column to see the connection you’ve missed (page 11).

You will also have noticed that the STEP Journal has undergone a refresh. We hope you like the new look!


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Thomas Dumont

Thomas Dumont TEP is a Barrister at Radcliffe Chambers and the STEP Advocate of the Year 2010-2011.

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