“Regardless of our income or means, a trust is a good vehicle for us to carry out our interests and wishes even when we are no longer around,” said Associate Professor Audrey Chia, the former Co-Director of Asia Centre for Social Entrepreneurship & Philanthropy at the National University of Singapore (NUS) Greater Good Series talk ‘Trusts, Philanthropy and its Challenges’.
During this event, guest speaker Mr Eli William Lenyoun, Founder and Director of Family Wealth Solutions Pte Ltd, and panellist, Mr James W Cox, CEO of British & Malayan Trustees Limited, shared how, with better management, philanthropists can protect and pass on their wealth to future generations and make a greater impact on society through their act of giving.
Mr Lenyoun, who has more than 35 years of financial and wealth planning experience with global financial firms in USA, Caribbean, Latin America and Switzerland, quoted an old Chinese saying, “The first generation makes the wealth, the second generation preserves the wealth and the third generation dissipates it.” He explained that a worrying trend in affluent societies today is how around more than 95 percent of all family-linked influential businesses fail before they reach the fourth generation, and a lot of the wealth in the world today is already on its way to the third generation. In his view, the primary reason why they fail is not because they are ‘bad’ businesses, but because of monetary disputes within the family.
Instead of splitting the shares of a company equally amongst children, something many business owners tend to do, Mr Lenyoun advised parents to set up a trust to manage and distribute their assets while they are still alive. “A trust is not only useful for wealth preservation, it can help to reduce possible conflicts in wealthy families.”
To carry out philanthropic work, both Mr Lenyoun and Mr Cox highlighted that setting up a trust has its benefits as it allows the one to retain control of the assets. It can also keep a family supporting the same cause across many generations.
However, Mr Lenyoun reminded the audience that before anyone embarks on philanthropic work, there are many questions to address first, such as “What social impact are you looking for?”, “What results do you want to achieve?”, “Who are your beneficiaries?”. These questions have to be answered before deciding on the type of legal structure the charitable entity should adopt.
In closing, Mr Lenyoun rallied everyone to support a university that is interested in helping young people get an education. “All of us have an obligation to do so. What goes around comes around. To leave a legacy, it will be in the best interests of NUS and our future generations”.
The NUS Greater Good Series features talks by leading minds on topics related to philanthropy. These include generosity, giving and service to the community, as well as leadership, personal well-being and mental resilience. The Series aims to raise awareness of philanthropy and its impact on society. The Series was made possible thanks to a generous gift from Newsman Realty Pte Ltd.
For further information on the NUS Greater Good Series, contact Chow Wei Ling at firstname.lastname@example.org