We're a Very Giving Lot; the Wealthiest People in the North East Are the Most Generous in the Country When It Comes to Charitable Donations. Now a Handbook Has Been Published to Help Them Give Their Money Away. MIKE KELLY Reports

Article excerpt

IF you were to come up with people who, rightly or wrongly, had become the personifcation of banking greed in the eyes of the public, you could do worse than choose former Barclays boss Bob Diamond and his right hand man Rich Ricci.

Their names became synonymous with the acquisitive ills of the banking system, like real life versions of the fictional character Gordon Gekko in the film Wall Street.

During a series of bank bail-outs following the collapse of Northern Rock in 2008 - though none directly to Barclays - the pair, amongst others, continued to trouser millions in bonuses as a disbelieving and disgusted public looked on.

They seemed to flourish as ordinary people suffered because of a recession largely caused by the antics of bankers in the investment side of the business like them.

The name of Barclays itself became for a time toxic, while its high earning investment clients were similarly disparaged by the public.

Diamond was the first to go in 2012 after the Libor rate fixing scandal led to Barclays being fined PS290m.

A year later it was Ricci's turn, his 'fall' cushioned by a PS700,000 golden handshake and bonuses estimated to be worth around PS18m.

For the last couple of years the bank has slowly and quietly been trying to re-build its reputation and offer reminders that the well-off do some good too.

It might come as a surprise that Barclays has a 'Philanthropy Service'. A further surprise might be that research carried out for it revealed that 59% of "high net worth individuals" - people with more than PS500,000 or currency equivalent in investible assets - in the North East plan to give to charity during their lifetime, the highest proportion in the UK where the average is 48%.

And so Barclays has launched a new, comprehensive guide to support its Philanthropy Service for their rich clients.

Called 'Philanthropy: Your Guide to Giving', it provides step-by-step advice and answers questions about all aspects of charitable giving.

The guide, the first of its kind from a UK private bank, will be used by Barclays in the North East to engage, educate and support clients with their giving efforts, including research, master classes and workshops.

Emma Turner, Head of Client Philanthropy, Barclays Wealth and Investment Management, said: "We know that clients in the North East are increasingly looking to become involved in giving, but often face challenges in getting started, particularly when it comes to thinking about giving for the first time, what it means to them and the impact this will have.

"There are a number of common questions that people are seeking answers to, from where they should start and how much should they give, to how to ensure success.

"The guide aims to answer these questions, providing clients with the knowledge, confidence and motivation to start and enjoy their giving." Featuring practical information on topics from charity governance to putting a board together, the guide is designed to cover the complete philanthropic journey.

Ms Turner added: "There are also a couple of areas which we think are important and not often written about. One is thinking about the talent and skills needed for the people who may join you on your board and, equally important, what you need to think about if you're asked to be a trustee of a charity. …