Advice clients demand philanthropic conversations

Philanthropy is becoming part of the conversation between financial advisers and clients as it's an area increasingly accessible to middle Australians, an estate planning expert says.

Australian Unity Trustees national manager of estate panning Anna Hacker said charitable giving is a conversation with financial advisers that's dramatically gaining popularity.

Hacker said more people are becoming excited about philanthropic initiatives, quashing the notion it is reserved only for the mega-rich of the world such as Bill Gates or multi-million dollar causes.

In the last five years people have increasingly moved away from larger charitable organisations that receive an abundance of support to being in control and specific about how money is spent, she said.

It's about funding grassroots or local projects, Hacker said, adding organisations such as of GoFundMe have motivated people to make a difference at the community level.

Giving circles, whereby people meet up and engage with the local conservation group for example, adds a social element that's attractive and empowers smaller groups in the community, she added.

Australian Unity Trustees executive general manager Emma Sakellaris said another noticeable trend, particularly among younger generations, is the transparency of philanthropic activities.

"In the past, Australians tended to be quite anonymous about their charitable giving.  However social media has become a key influencer and there is a move towards people promoting their charitable giving and motivating others to give - particularly amongst younger people," she said.

"Mediums such as 'selfies,' status updates, videos and 'local hero' style fundraising is becoming commonplace and, for the millennial generation, is a natural part of sharing their life story online," she said.

Sakellaris said crowd-funding is also helping meet basic individual needs such as medical care and funeral costs.

The ASX-listed health, wealth and living group's profit hit $73.3 million in the six months to December; $64.8 million of which was proceeds from divesting its corporate health insurance subsidiary, Grand United Corporate Health to nib. Excluding this impact, profit after tax stood at $8.5 million.

The wealth business contributed revenue of $363.1 million, up 12.1% year-on-year, to the group's total revenue of $750.6 million.

Group managing director Rohan Mead said the company has embarked on a "substantial company-wide transformation program."

"The transformation has incurred significant front-end costs, which particularly impacted the first-half results, and will require continuing investment. The benefits of the transformation will be derived progressively over coming reporting periods," he said.

Read more: Australian UnityAustralian Unity TrusteesPhilanthropyAnna HackerEmma SakellarisFinancial adviceRohan Mead
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