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  1. Wealth
December 20, 2022

How ‘progressive’ wealth advisers are tackling social inequality

By Ian Douglas

A new ‘progressive’ movement in wealth management is helping ultra-rich altruists who want to scale down their cash and assets in a way that benefits society

As more of the super-rich look for truly ethical ways to reduce their net worth, a new organisation has formed to manage wealth and assets with the aim of reducing inequality in society.

Members of The Progressive Advisers Network say a small but growing segment of high and ultra-high net worth clients are increasingly motivated to give much of their wealth away and want advisers who go beyond preserving or growing their assets.

Comprising wealth managers, tax advisers, lawyers and accountants, the new initiative was announced at the Wealth Management’s New Imperatives conference at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School.

The conference was organised by the Good Ancestor Movement, an alternative private wealth advisory firm that shuns traditional methods of preserving and growing wealth in order to help extremely wealthy clients give away huge chunks of their money effectively. 

Advisers from major firms including Boodle Hatfield and Fladgate joined the conference to discuss the currently informal structure linking the network.

Good Ancestor Movement
Good Ancestor Movement. Image: Fiston Lingo Photography

The term ‘progressive wealth management’ is defined by the Good Ancestor Movement as separate from philanthropy, which can be viewed as a self-serving pursuit when executed by the super-rich.

When it comes to investment, ‘progressive’ advisers will seek only to further social aims and positively avoid increasing wealth for the individual. 

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This means shunning traditional investing that pursues only asset growth and is a huge step up from socially engaged investing that aims to minimise exploitation.

As well as avoiding investing with the aim of asset growth, adherents of progressive wealth management avoid any tax minimisation schemes including pension plans and investment tax relief.

They also take no dividends from profits and introduce community ownership of companies and assets where possible.

Jake Hayman, co-founder of the Good Ancestor Movement, told the conference: ‘What does it mean when you have a set of values to live those values through your wealth?

‘The spectrum shows a progressive wealth holder who thinks about estate and wealth planning not just in preservation and accumulation, not just in terms of what’s enough for me, but what is the inequality quotient of a society that I’m willing to live in?

‘What does that look like as a starting point and how does that affect what I seek to retain and how much I redistribute?’

Several wealth holders appeared on stage during the conference, confirming their commitment to progressive wealth management and expressing their frustration at not being able to find advisers who could assist them.

Jonathan Simmons, a technology investor and entrepreneur speaking on a wealth holders’ panel, addressed the change required in the industry to accommodate clients who hold such a different attitude to their money.

He said: ‘I don’t think I’m exceptional. I worked in the technology industry which has gone through a revolution in the last 25 years.

‘And everyone I know who didn’t go on that revolutionary journey said, “We’ll wait until our customers tell us. We’ll wait until we meet the people who want to buy or organise on the internet.”

‘And their customers never told them, they just went somewhere else. That’s what I can see happening here. I listen to [my fellow wealth holders] and I listen to my friends and their values.

‘Ultimately if service industries don’t serve our needs we’re not going to tell them they have six months to change, we’ll just go.’

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