Foundations, Asset Management, “Virtual Day for Foundation Assets” – Markus Hill* spoke for FONDSBOUTIQUEN.DE with Tobias Karow, stiftungsmarktplatz.eu, about current challenges for foundations in asset management and the importance of fund boutiques in this area. Additionally, topics such as foundation law reform, fatherhood, and cinema as well as the genesis of the own event format were addressed. (Event note “3rd Virtual Day for Foundation Assets,” 4/27/2022: www.vtfds.de)
Hill: How did you come up with the idea for the “Virtual Day for Foundation Assets” event series?
Karow: I have been working in the foundation sector for more than 10 years, and have moderated and accompanied hundreds of events. But what has never existed during this time is a congress on all aspects of managing foundation assets. There is such a thing for all capital collection agencies, but not for foundations. Somehow nobody dared to do it, even the big foundation events do not only focus on the topic of foundation assets. When we, with our platform stiftungsmarktplatz.eu, were confronted with the question of whether we, as an online company, should perhaps do online events, listening in on the market was overwhelming. That was in November 2019. Six months later, there was the Virtual Day for the Foundation Assets, as a pre-produced video stream, then last year we made a real TV show out of it together with Stifter-TV and RenditeWerk. We’re now making the first breakfast TV show all about foundation assets so to say.
Hill: What are the main topics this year?
Karow: Regardless of the geopolitical challenges, which somehow we all didn’t see coming, other fundamental issues are crucial from a foundation perspective. We are talking about EUR 200, 300, or even 400 billion in foundation assets, and if all of that earns zero interest, there will be no money for the foundation’s purposes. If, however, we manage to increase the return on these assets by 1%, then there will be EUR 2, 3, or 4 billion more available for solving social problems. And that’s what drives me when I put the issues together. We are looking at how foundation assets can improve their economic standing, how foundation assets should be invested with a view to 2030, and also to break away somewhat from the current temperate environment. We will also be looking at the reform of foundation law, which will be passed in 2021 and come into force in 2023, as this can be a real game-changer for foundations.
Hill: What role do independent asset managers (fund boutiques) play in asset manager selection for foundations?
Karow: If a foundation needs an external sparring partner, then fund boutiques can play a vital role. The advantage of independent asset managers is their independence, their freedom of thought, and their ability to provide feedback, which is why they are best suited to help foundations overcome their skepticism toward consultants. Unfortunately, asset managers tend to get lost in generalizations about the management of foundation assets; a foundation often does not know which solution to the task of “managing the foundation’s assets” the manager stands for. The fact that he deals with the foundation’s assets in a trustworthy manner is not information, but a matter of course.
Hill: Foundations are an interesting topic. What else are you currently more interested in?
Karow: I’m already concerned about the world we’ll be living in in the future. As a young father, even more so. Will it be a world in which we stand up for democratic values, in which we uphold freedom, or will this be different in the future? I’m also concerned about how the working environment will be in the future; as an online platform, you’re very fluidly positioned, and you can function very well in many circumstances, but can manufacturing companies still do that? In the next lockdown? And wanting to save everything forever won’t work either, we as a society can’t sustain that. And what I’m missing is an optimistic picture of the future. Do you know what’s currently playing in theaters? Something with Dumbledore and the end of the world, that’s not my thing.
Hill: Thank you very much for the interview.
TOBIAS KAROW: “The MünchnerStiftungsTag, it’s good to have it again. It was the last foundation event we had the pleasure of being a guest at in 2020. This year, on July 1, 2021, the MünchnerStiftungsTag will be held digitally, and the program also has the digital world as a theme. The aim is to discuss how digital day-to-day foundation practice already is and what we remain. We have already found three Digissentials in advance.”
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