“I am a private banker who has been in the banking industry for 28 years. I have had clients who became happier when they shared their wealth with the less fortunate. I also have had more than a few clients who were unhappy because they were never satisfied with what they had,” mused Ms Anne Chen (EMBA ’07), former managing director (wealth management) at UBS Singapore.
Ms Anne Chen, who hails from Taiwan, established the Xi Hu Bursary at the National University of Singapore (NUS) Business School to honour her late parents. Her experience managing the wealth of her high net-worth clients led her to question the true value of wealth and philanthropy.
Ms Chen shared a little more about her past. “My first lesson in generosity was taught by my late father. He was a humble soldier who took it upon himself to support his friends’ children through school though he didn’t have much himself. He believed that education was the key to a better life.”
“When I was 19, my father passed away suddenly. My brother and I finished school with government support while my mother, who was a housewife, took on odd jobs to support us. Though times were tough, we got by. Subsequently, in 1990, I had the opportunity to work in private banking before I relocated to Singapore in 2001.”
Today, she is happy, grateful and proud that her two children—son Phillip, a freshman at NUS Business School, and daughter May, a scholarship recipient at Hwa Chong International, are independent learners who understand the importance of giving.
When her then nine-year-old son challenged her with the question: “Why do adults always push children to study when they do not do it themselves,” her determination to become a positive role model to her children led her to pursue the EMBA course at NUS.
“He was right,” Ms Chen added, “And taking up the EMBA course turned out to be a great blessing.”
She was grateful to Singapore and NUS for providing her with a solid platform for lifelong learning. She decided to set up a bursary for NUS students before she headed back to Taiwan to take on a new role in UBS Taiwan.
“取之於社会，用之於社会” (After receiving the benefits from society, one must give back to the community). My parents were always generous and willing to share what they have, and that has definitely shaped my mindset towards philanthropy,” Ms Chen said at the end of our meeting.
Similarly shaped by his parents’ teachings, Philip now contributes to the Bursary established by his mother and is set to discover his own path of giving.