BNP Paribas launches charity service for rich clients

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 March, 2014, 1:20am
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 March, 2014, 1:20am

Many millionaires in Hong Kong and elsewhere in Asia now regard charity donations as an important part of their wealth management, prompting French lender BNP Paribas to set up a team in the city to handle such matters for wealthy clients.

Wealth management co-chief executive Vincent Lecomte said the team would help clients handle charity donations through services such as setting up trusts and helping them identify where to put their money.

He said the bank would not charge fees for philanthropic services but would eventually benefit from them because they would help the bank better understand clients' demands and networks.

"Helping individual philanthropy has become part of wealth management services," Lecomte said at the launch of the service yesterday. "Customers do not only want us to make more profit for them but also help them give it away for a good cause."

The bank started such services in Europe seven years ago due to client demand. Lecomte said it was now time to expand them into Asia.

"The sustained growth and surge in wealth experience in Asia has triggered a parallel growth in philanthropy in the region," he said. "We certainly see a correlation between increased wealth and increased engagement in philanthropic projects."

Lecomte also unveiled BNP's second annual survey - conducted by Forbes Insights from October to December last year - which interviewed 414 individuals with more than US$5 million to invest. A quarter of respondents were from Asia.

The result showed US and European millionaires were more willing to donate than those in Asia and the Middle East. US respondents had a score of 53.2 out of 100, followed by Europe at 46.3, Asia at 42.4 and the Middle East at 29.4. The scores were based on their current and projected future donations.

The environment was regarded as the most urgent area needing help by respondents in Asia, Europe and the Middle East, while health care topped the list in the US.

Wealthy Asians wanted to donate because of a desire to give back to society, while European respondents said they were motivated by altruistic thoughts. Elsewhere, religion and personal experience were more important.