The Ethics of Wealth Management

My summer internship has been unique to other experiences I’ve had in the past. It is even significantly different than last summer where I had similar responsibilities for the same company. This is all because I am working from home instead of an office building. Running a family office is tough and burdensome work. The firm only has 6 employees and they manage the wealth of 5 families. Because of this, the team at (qp) global is constantly working with each of their families while working with the members of the (qp) team as well. I’ve seen the pandemic affect my internship in two ways. The market volatility early on and extra diligence on investments due to uncertain times has caused the members of the team to be incredibly busy this summer. They are trying to navigate a market that is ever-changing especially during these times. This has a ripple effect on me as I am not as interactive in the processes of the team and instead left to complete my tasks without a ton of employee interaction. This has made it tough to write frequent thorough blog posts. I am constantly taking notes o the technical side of what I’m learning. However, I believe there is a personal connection piece that is missing this year that has made it hard to effectively evaluate leadership at the firm. Due to confidentiality reasons, I am not allowed to be involved in many of the group meetings and am left to one-on-one conversations.

 

Recently, I have been pondering the ethics of the business and running a family office. The two major parts of ethical leadership that I have retained are leaders that “follow the rules” and work for “the greater good”. I have applied that to my internship and the answer is complicated. (qp) global works for high net worth families and manage everything from their taxes to philanthropy. The philanthropy aspect of (qp) global intrigues me and I asked to find out more. They told me that mostly all of philanthropic work is decided by the families, or the families explain general overviews of where they would like to donate and it is (qp) global’s job to find effective charities that meets the requests of the families. This is a major aspect of their business and what they pride themselves on. In Justice and Civil Society we discussed the importance of donating to effective charities so I really like the idea that they pride themselves on making sure the money that is being donated is helping in the most effective way. However, the main aspect of the business is investing. A lot of their investments take place in private funds that have minimum investments ranging from $250,000 to $750,000. (qp) does extensive due diligence to make sure the families generate a return on these investments and it is very rare (if it happens at all) that an investment fails. This is basically free income. The question that I keep asking myself and makes me ponder the ethics of this is: “If this is essentially free income and everybody involved is making money, it’s a shame that not everybody can do it.” These investments are limited to people who have a substantial amount of money and is a vehicle for them to generate even more money.

 

The ethical question doesn’t really have to do with (qp) gobal at all and more about how our economy works and who it benefits. I will continue posing these questions and think critically about the potential issues in our economic system.

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