There was a strong turnout of respected industry figures at Monday night’s launch of Hedge Funds Care Asia, the Asian affiliate of a US-based charity for the prevention and treatment of child abuse.
Admittedly most of them were service providers to the hedge fund industry rather than money-men themselves – but that is often the case at such soirees. This event was a prelude to the official opening gala on March 24, 2015.
The aim of Hedge Funds Care Asia is to extend research beyond Hong Kong to assess the seriousness of the problem across the region, raise awareness and intervene effectively.
Jean Sung, chairwoman of the charity’s board and executive director of JP Morgan’s Asia philanthropy centre, and EY asset management partner George Saffayeh gave opening and closing comments, before and after a presentation by Patrick Ip of the University of Hong Kong, an expert in developmental-behavioural paediatrics.
During his presentation, Ip noted that effective intervention to prevent child abuse requires more data. There has been a dramatic increase in abuse cases in Hong Kong. Citing an eight-year study, he said research showed a “very consistent” pattern of abuse peaking during examination periods, especially in the case of primary school children.
Ip also highlighted the vulnerability of pre-school children given the rapid development of their brains at this age, as well as the link between abuse and mental illness.
Saffayeh observed that awareness of child abuse in Asia is “still pretty low”. Despite more than one in four children suffering physical abuse in Hong Kong, child abuse is still widely accepted, he said.
Other committee members include well-known figures in prime broking (Goldman Sachs’ Katherine Abrat and Credit Suisse’s Vasundhara Pradeep), hedge fund services (Northern Trust’s Jeb Altonaga and State Street’s Daniel McNicholas), tax and accounting (PwC’s Carlyon Knight-Evans and KPMG’s Darren Bowdern and Bonn Liu) and legal services (Sidley Austin’s Effie Vasilopoulos and Ogier’s Nicholas Plowman).
Abrat, Altonaga, Bowdern and McNicholas were in attendance, as were EY's Michael Stenske and Sidley Austin's Scott Day.
The event was held at the offices of consulting firm EY in Citic Tower, near where the pro-democracy demonstrations have been under way since the end of September. But any difficulties encountered getting to the event did not seem to be reflected in the turnout; 108 had signed up, of which a large proportion made it along.
A good thing too, because, as Sung noted, corporate backing is key to charity fund-raising in Asia. Worldwide, individuals make up 80% of charity contributions, with corporates accounting for the remaining 20%, she said. In Asia, the split is 80% corporate and 20% individual.
Hedge Funds Care Asia is the first branch of the charity outside the US. The charity provides small grants to community-based organisations helping children at risk of abuse, and their families.
Set up in 1998 in the US, Hedge Fund Care has raised $40 million so far. The charity declined to comment on how much it hoped to raise in Asia.