Baby boomer investors want to leave behind their own philanthropic imprint and legacy, according to a new BMO study.
November 15 was National Philanthropy Day and a report titled The Aging Economy: Improving with Age found that 72% of Canadians aged 55 and older intended to leave a legacy of values and life lessons.
They study also found that 24% believe a memorable legacy includes charitable acts and donations, 21% believe giving includes public service and community involvement, 11% believe personal assets are their legacy, and 10% believe their family business is theirs.
Marvi Ricker, vice president and managing director at BMO Private Banking, works with high-net-worth individuals and helps them be more efficient with their philanthropy. She said it’s a generation that prefers a more hands-on approach.
She said: “The baby-boomer generation is different from the generation preceding it in that the people were charitable but they tended to give at arm’s length and deferred to authority figures.
“But the baby boomers are people who want to be involved and want to leave their own imprint and legacy on an issue that’s important to them. Sometimes this is in the form of money, sometimes this is in the form of having spent a lot of time and money on an issue in their community.”
Ricker said many wealthy clients use philanthropy as a way of keeping their children grounded, teaching them to be good citizens of the country, who get involved and contribute.
“Nobody wants to raise a pile of Paris Hiltons,” said Ricker, who also believes there is a disconnect between advisors and their clients about how to approach charitable giving.
“Advisors tend to be reluctant to ask their clients about their charitable interests because they are afraid of offending people but a number of surveys have shown that particularly wealthy people want their advisors to help them.
“They expect their clients to raise this question so there is really a disconnect between them and what the advisors think they want. They have not communicated very effectively on the issue of charitable giving over the years but that has started to change and I have seen a big change since I have been in that role at BMO and it’s very gratifying to see that change.”
Ricker said clients need to be encouraged to have detailed knowledge of the sectors and the organisations they are funding so their money has the impact they want. She believes this is more satisfying than just writing a check.
“[Philanthropy] sounds like a grandiose word, a word that maybe you apply to Bill Gates, but it really is an approach to giving. People like you and I, when we give we try to figure out 'OK, I’m interested in the environment, so I’m going to put all my money into this kind of activity'.
“I can’t possibly help 86,000 charities, I can’t do something for everybody so I’ve got to choose where I want to put down my mark and what my legacy and footprint is going to be.”
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