30 August 2022 Issue 4 Helen Swire

Wealth in the spotlight

Following the fall‑out of COVID‑19 and the invasion of Ukraine, a recent STEP Journal roundtable, sponsored by RBC wealth management, examined how global events are influencing attitudes to wealth and philanthropy


  • Sarajane Kempster, Head of Fiduciary Clients and Fiduciary Specialist Team Lead, RBC Wealth Management, chair
  • Chris Nutter, Associate Director, Fiduciary Specialist Team, RBC Wealth Management
  • Julie Kleis TEP, Director, Fiduciary Specialist Team, RBC Wealth Management
  • Sianne Haldane TEP, Chief Impact Officer, Maanch
  • Emily Osborne TEP, Partner, Private Wealth and Tax, Stephenson Harwood
  • Dhana Sabanathan TEP, Partner, Winckworth Sherwood
  • Clare Stirzaker Partner, Boodle Hatfield

After a turbulent three years globally, seven private client experts came together in June 2022 for a STEP Journal roundtable discussion, sponsored by RBC Wealth Management. The participants discussed events since 2019, from the outbreak of COVID‑19 to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and looked at how they have impacted clients and influenced attitudes to philanthropic giving.

Sarajane Kempster, Head of Fiduciary Clients and Fiduciary Specialist Team Lead at RBC Wealth Management and Chair of the roundtable, opened proceedings by asking the participants how dynamics have changed for global families and if the pandemic has altered the way practitioners advise their clients.

‘Everyone has suddenly become very aware of their own mortality,’ said Clare Stirzaker, Partner at Boodle Hatfield. ‘There’s been a shift from clients looking at jurisdictional movement and investment to conversations that are concentrated on estate planning and future‑proofing. Recent geopolitical events have certainly focused clients on how well their wealth is protected and structured. There’s also a growing debate around wealth preservation: to what extent should family wealth continue to be accumulated and preserved and to what extent can families use that wealth to give back to society and address the wealth inequality question.’

Dhana Sabanathan TEP, Partner at Winckworth Sherwood, agreed: ‘Life has changed for many people in terms of their workforce, work‑life balance, time spent in different jurisdictions, the need to support healthcare systems and so on. There has been a shift towards conversations about equality.’

Changing perceptions

The equality conversation is one that is part of a changing attitude to being a wealth owner, as well as the shifts in the global geopolitical landscape. Sabanathan commented that practitioners are having to help clients ‘reprogramme’ their attitudes to their wealth. ‘Having this wealth has become very political and some of the conversations about morality overshadow the huge responsibility of these family businesses and their huge potential to do good,’ she explained. ‘Practitioners have to counter the negative perceptions and help to set standards and simplify clients’ understanding of their structures.’

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