Asian billionaires are finally feeling guilty enough to embrace philanthropy

Those living in New York City and other world capitals, are used to a certain sterotype: super-rich, cosmopolitan Asians consuming luxury goods and haute cuisine with abandon. But according to a soon-to-be-released report by Wealth-X, Asias wealthiest are now behaving more like their western cousins, setting aside their Instagram accounts and embracing philanthropy.

“You’re starting to see where philanthropy is becoming more and more important to billionaires regardless of where they live,” John Mathews, head of private wealth management and the ultra-high-net-worth group at UBS, told the New York Times. The Times was given a sneak peak at the Wealth X report. “I don’t know if 10, 12 years ago, it was much of a conversation in Asia. Now all billionaires, regardless of where they live, are worried about the next generation.

Isn’t it nice when people give back?

But apparently even western billionaires — for whom the charity circuit is a way of life — often overestimate the scale of our social problems ( problems they too often helped create).

Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg said in an interview in 2014 that he was approached by a hedge fund manager offering him $1 billion over five years to change public education in New York.

“When I explained to him that New York City’s annual school budget was $22 billion a year,” Bloomberg said, “that was the last time we ever heard from him.” [NYT]

 

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