Bridging wealth and sustainability – Campden FB

Ann Tan is Managing Director at the Center for Sustainable Finance and Private Wealth Singapore (CSP SG), an independent nonprofit based in Singapore that focuses on bringing together private wealth and sustainable finance. Here she talks to CampdenFB about how she gets family offices to think about sustainability, why education is the answer and what the challenges are going to be for the next five years. 
Do family offices now understand sustainability? 
Ann Tan: Well, there’s definitely been progress, but it’s moving slower than I’d hope. The main challenge isn’t really about accessing the right information – it’s more about understanding what sustainability truly means on a personal and collective level.
Think about it this way: do the individuals in a family take a moment to reflect on what sustainability means for their own lives? And then, do they come together as a family, including their family office, to have that same conversation collectively?
If these steps aren’t taken, then family offices often end up just going through the motions without a deep understanding or genuine commitment to sustainability. It’s crucial to have those personal and collective reflections to make real, meaningful progress.
Are there still practical barriers?
Ann Tan: Absolutely, and one of the biggest hurdles is figuring out which media sources are truly reliable. We’ve come a long way from the days of dense, 60-page research documents that most people couldn’t digest. Now, we have applied research reports, e-versions, films, short media pieces, memes, and even comics.
But with this variety comes complexity. Different social constructs like ethnicity, culture, gender, religion and so on add layers of confusion. There are so many platforms and “multiple realities” that it’s hard to discern what’s real. This external and internal confusion often leads people to take the easy way out.
The main challenge isn’t really about accessing the right information. It’s more about understanding what sustainability truly means on a personal and collective level.
How do you navigate not just the challenge of talking to family offices but that of talking to different generations of family members?
Ann Tan: I start with a deep sense of curiosity. Actively listening is crucial – it’s not just about waiting for my turn to speak. I make a conscious effort to let the person finish their thoughts without interruption. If something isn’t clear, I’ll ask for clarification, but my main goal is to listen to understand, not just to respond.
It’s a straightforward idea, but the nuances of human interaction can make it quite challenging. Each generation has its own perspectives and values, so approaching these conversations with an open mind and genuine interest helps bridge those gaps.
How much of a help was it to get recognition from Ravi Menon, then managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, in August 2022? 
Ann Tan: Receiving recognition from someone as influential as Mr Ravi Menon is incredibly validating. It shines a spotlight on our work and shows that we’re seen as worthy of attention. But it also brings a sense of responsibility. I wouldn’t call it pressure, but there’s definitely a drive to meet the market’s needs and expectations.
I deeply respect the Singaporean government’s initiatives, and my approach is to respond with curiosity. I constantly ask myself, “How can CSP SG most effectively educate and empower private wealth holders to invest in sustainable development while honouring this endorsement?”
This recognition propels us forward and motivates us to strive for excellence in fulfilling our mission.
Is education the answer? 
Ann Tan: Absolutely, education is a crucial part of the solution. As a relatively new organization established in 2021, CSP Singapore has initially focused on educating wealth managers. We’re now gearing up to launch an education series to support wealth holders. Through our training programs that have been accredited by the Institute of Banking and Finance, we have made significant progress in supporting wealth managers in serving their clients in sustainable investing.
Our key to success with wealth managers lies in the relevance and practicality of our training. Our team brings extensive experience in financial advisory and banking, which allows us to deeply understand how wealth managers think and operate. We also have strong experience in managing relationships with wealth holders.
Our goal is to equip wealth managers to better support wealth holders. We’re uniquely positioned to help them connect more effectively with their clients. Our training is designed to be relatable, practical, and easy to understand. Wealth managers leave our sessions knowing how to engage with their clients meaningfully.
The traditional approach of simply selling products doesn’t resonate with wealth holders. Our focus is on facilitating constructive conversations that meet the needs of both parties. That’s our strength, and it’s what CSP Singapore stands for – bridging the gap and fostering productive dialogue.
Do you see yourself rolling it out to the wealth holders themselves? 
Ann Tan: Absolutely. While our accredited programs have enabled us to effectively train a significant number of wealth managers, our core mission is to educate and empower wealth holders directly.
We’re currently developing a series of short programs, ranging from half a day to two days, that will cover essential topics like the fundamentals of sustainable investing, personalized consultations, and even creating personal impact vision boards or impact policy statements. These programs are designed to help wealth holders define their impact goals, understand their current positions, and chart a course for achieving those goals.
But our vision goes beyond just education. We aim to create a supportive alumni network for those who complete our courses. This safe space will allow them to discuss challenges, share experiences, and seek support from one another and our team. This network is particularly vital because we serve Asian wealth holders from diverse countries, including Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Thailand, the Philippines, Taiwan, China, and Hong Kong.
We’re ambitiously targeting a launch date in the third quarter of this year, and we’re very excited about it!
What are going to be the challenges over the next five years? 
Ann Tan: One significant challenge will be navigating the evolving conversation around sustainable investing and the perceived compromise on financial returns. Given Asia’s cultural emphasis on profitability, we can expect intensified debates on balancing returns and impact. These discussions are crucial as they provide a platform to address what truly matters to investors. Professionals who can facilitate these conversations will be key, helping participants understand that impact and financial returns can coexist. The challenge lies in clarifying what impact means to each individual and recognizing that money is a tool, not just an end goal.
These passionate debates will highlight a common desire: to do good and be rewarded in ways that align with personal and familial values. Skilled facilitators will play a critical role in guiding these conversations, ensuring that diverse voices are heard and that strategies are cohesive and impactful.
At CSP Singapore, we are dedicated to addressing these challenges. Our goal is to help individuals and families align their passions and resources with their values, using private capital to drive sustainable development. We invite you to explore how we can support your journey in sustainable investing. Join us in shaping a future where profit and purpose go hand in hand! is a wholly owned subsidiary of Campden Wealth © 2001-2022 All rights reserved. Your use of this site is governed by the Terms and Conditions.