23rd March 2018





Authored and originally posted by Prism Trustee, Penny Lovell.

Believe it or not, it was the International Day of Happiness on Tuesday, coinciding with what was alleged to be the start of Spring. Well, you could have fooled me, said everybody scraping the ice off their car and wondering when the cold weather would stop coming back for yet another encore. Now is the discontent of our winter made very grumpy indeed when we almost hit Easter and it’s still freezing. Then, on Wednesday, a glittering sunny morning – in London at least – and joy and warmth came flooding in. Whether you’re a new lamb or a midlife banker, it’s hard not to feel hopeful as the season turns. The poet Philip Larkin put it so beautifully: “The trees are coming into leaf/Like something almost being said.”


Feeling much more cheerful, I looked up the International Day of Happiness and found out that it was the concept of Jayme Illien, philanthropist and UN special advisor. In 2012 Illien, who had worked as CEO of several companies, persuaded a coalition of all 193 United Nations member states to create a new global day of awareness about the impact that happiness can have, especially on children’s lives. He chose 20 March because the March Equinox is a universal phenomenon felt simultaneously by all of humankind, occurring at the moment when the plane of the Earth’s equator passes through the centre of the Sun’s disk. Illien said he had been inspired by Bhutan. Since 1971, that small mountain kingdom has rejected GDP as the only way to measure progress and introduced GNH or gross national happiness. The country’s wealth is now counted in the spiritual, physical, social and and environmental health of its citzens.


If that all sounds a bit Buddhist-tastic for a private wealth manager, stick with me. It turns out that 32 years before founding Happiness Day, Jayme Illien was an orphan rescued from a roadside in Calcutta by Mother Teresa’s International Mission of Hope orphanage. The scrap of a boy was adopted by an amazing forty-five-year-old single American woman, Anna Belle Illien. After agreeing to adopt Jayme, Anna Belle founded Illien Adoptions International, a 501 non profit child social welfare and international adoption agency based in Atlanta, Georgia. The abandoned little boy grew up to be a healthy, buoyantly optimistic, successful American who wanted to give something to the children whose lives began as unpromisingly as his had. Jayme’s firm Illien Global Public Benefit Corporation got the ball rolling with a $1.5 million campaign to get the UN to recognise happiness as a fundamental goal for all children and to stress the need for a more inclusive approach to economic growth that promotes sustainable development and poverty eradication.


This idea of Giving Back in a caring, but also businesslike way, is growing and is increasingly important for our clients at Sanlam. We are constantly looking at easier and more impactful ways to give to charity than setting up your own foundation. 


Did you know that there is £750 milion unclaimed Gift Aid in the UK every year? That’s free money going begging!


Giving is proven to make us happy. A 2008 study by Harvard Business School found that giving money to someone else lifted participants’ happiness more that spending it on themselves. Giving turns out to be surprisingly good for our health. Exercise that philanthropic muscle and you’re likely to have fewer physical ailments and longer life too. Giving promotes co-operation and social connection. In an increasingly atomised and lonely world that’s great news, but if you give you’re also more likely to get back. A truly virtuous circle.


At Sanlam, we are proud to have Prism as a key anchor to our Philanthropy service – Prism is a brilliant organisation that helps people give meaningfully and well without the long and tedious process of setting up a Foundation. Clients are still able to do what they set out to do – donate to causes close to their hearts – and with a DAF (donor advised fund) structured by Prism they can do it without the legal administrative burden, finding trustees and associated costs. Anna Josse the inspirational CEO of Prism told me about a client who was coming up to his 60th birthday and decided he wanted to celebrate, not with some splendid new toy, but by giving to more charities and he loved how Prism made it all so easy for him. A Prism client has a balance of assets and might make for example around 20 significant gifts to charities all over the world every year. The donor gets impact reports to check their money is seriously doing good. Gifts could be sent to UK charities as well as overseas charities while the huge amount of due diligence required is all administered by Prism.


One conspicuously happy charitable example I can think of is Niall Horan of One Direction. Twenty-four-year-old Niall came top of one giving list, regarding the percentage of his wealth he gives away, and the lovely lad encourages the band’s millions of fans to give too.


Another person hugely conscious of her own good fortune and of the need to spread the luck around is JK Rowling. The creator of Harry Potter actually lost her first female novelist billionaire status because she gave so much of her wealth to charity. People admired her more, not less, for losing that title.


In these stressful, divisive times, when people’s physical needs are met but their inner lives neglected, I suspect that the idea of Gross National Happiness will become more important. Wealth managers have their part to play. Margaret Thatcher was criticised when she observed that the only reason the Good Samaritan could cross the road to help a person in need was because he had made money in the first place. A typical, blunt, hard-headed Maggie thing to say, but she was spot on, of course. At Sanlam, we show our good Samaritans the best way to contribute to charity and help them to get huge pleasure and satisfaction doing it.


Turns out our spiritual values were right all along: it is more blessed to give than receive.  


View the original article here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/churchill-right-we-make-living-my-what-get-life-give-penny-lovell/ 

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