Kam Shing Kwang was born in China, but grew up living across many parts of Asia. These experiences have given her a distinct perspective of how families across Greater China and the wider Asian region approach wealth.
This article is an excerpt from the financial podcast My Next Move, hosted by Michael Liersch, Global Head of Wealth Planning & Advice at J.P. Morgan Asset & Wealth Management.
Not surprisingly, in her current role Kam Shing does a great deal of travel and meets with a great variety of individuals.
“We tend to focus a lot on the differences between people in our region,” she says. “But the more I speak to families, the more I actually find similarities.”
“All families are essentially the same,” she says. “They have the same aspirations, they have the same expectations of their children - and they have the same fears.”
What is different, in her view, is the historical backdrop of each family’s situation.
“For myself and many of the families that I work with, we are immigrants in the countries we live.”
“Many of our clients have come from China or India, and then immigrated to Hong Kong, to Taiwan, to Singapore, to Malaysia, to Indonesia or even to Australia, for that matter.”
And with this status comes a distinctive approach.
“They have to fend for themselves and they have to work hard,” says Kam Shing. “They created the wealth and they want to pass that on to their children.”
Kam Shing has seen great diversity in the challenges faced by clients across the region. And many of these concern the process of passing down a family business that has been built from scratch.
“There are quite a lot of families that quickly understand that their child may not want to take over the family business,” she says. “So they actually start thinking about succession planning a lot earlier.”
She also recognizes that within Asia there has been a common mindset that the son–and often the elder son–should be the one to run the family business.
Evidently, the ramifications of such an approach can have a variety of consequences.
“In many cases the daughters get to do whatever they like,” says Kam Shing.
“I guess ironically we see a lot of very accomplished daughters, because they have been allowed to grow and pursue their passion and excel.”
Kam Shing has also seen many cases of emerging generations being shielded from their family’s wealth, sometimes even into adulthood.
“I think it’s a difficult subject matter for a lot of families,” she says. “And especially the first generation of wealth creators.”
“But I think the earlier you start talking to your children about the value of money and wealth, the better.”
The overarching principle that she encourages families to strive for is stewardship.
“Younger generations are best considering themselves as custodians of wealth.”
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