Here, not far from Wall Street, Swiss banking giant UBS Group AG has convened its annual Young Successors Programme (YSP), a three-day workshop for people who were born loaded. Part tutorial and part self-actualisation exercise, the event is designed to stamp the UBS brand on the minds of the next generation of the ultra-wealthy-in essence, to hook them while they’re young.
On one level, these programs-also held in cities such as Zurich, London and Singapore-represent high-end networking opportunities where the young and rich can be young and rich together.
The intimacy “allows them to let their guard down for a change,” said John Mathews, head of private-wealth management and ultra-high net worth for UBS Wealth Management USA. The gatherings also allow private banks to show off the broad range of services they offer, which is crucial as investing becomes largely commodified-and in any case, isn't a topic that inspires passion among millennials.
So while one of Citi Private Bank’s Next Gen programs offers a day on financial theory and strategy, it also devotes a day to entrepreneurship and innovation and another to estate planning.
“We want young ones to understand that, as a scion of a wealthy family with a business legacy, you have responsibilities,” said the aptly named Money K, who heads up Citi’s global Next Gen programs from Singapore.
“Eventually you will inherit, so how should you think about it, and what are the rules on estate planning in different jurisdictions around the world?”
Invitees to the June UBS confab had at least one thing in common: a family account with the bank well into-or above-the eight-digit mark.
They arrived from around the world and included seven sets of siblings.
The youngest was 21; the oldest, 34. UBS executives agreed to speak about the gathering, and allowed a reporter to attend all but the evening activities, on the condition that participants not be named.
Fusty these affairs are not.
For one cocktail reception, UBS chose a penthouse with a terrace atop the Beekman Hotel, a renovated Gilded Age office building. Brown Brothers Harriman & Co – about as old-school as it gets, with a history going back to 1818 – hosted 40 offspring of its best clients at the chic Soho Grand last year.
Morgan Stanley’s private-wealth management business went for a different hipster vibe, taking over the bowling lanes at Lucky Strike in Manhattan for the 100 attendees of its Next Gen programme in May. Since many millennials want to run their own businesses and like to learn from peers, Morgan Stanley included a “Shark Tank” – style session with young social entrepreneurs pitching to a panel of three attendees.
“Socially responsible investing is a theme that really resonates,” said Mandell Crawley, head of private wealth management at the bank.
Personal branding also clicks with the younger generation, so Crawley headed up a discussion on “Defining Your Narrative.”
Breakout talks included creating “a powerful package called “you” and “how to communicate like a leader.”
Another popular theme is innovations in philanthropy, and wealth managers are increasingly keen to offer strategic advice.
Checkbook charity doesn't appeal, but impact philanthropy does, because the results can be measured.