If you are reading this, the chances are that you are either in the 1 Per Cent or you work or are associated with the 1 Per Cent
If you are reading this, the chances are that you are either in the 1 Per Cent or you work or are associated with the 1 Per Cent. When we speak of the 1 Per Cent, what we mean is people with an annual income over £225,000 in Britain or $343,000 in America. (The median for the UK is £26,000 and for the US $49,000.) The 1 Per Cent in the UK will earn more (12.4 per cent of national income) but will pay more too (26.6 per cent of the tax burden in 2010-11, according to HMRC estimates). In America, the 1 Per Cent own 34.6 per cent of the country’s wealth.
None of this is by way of complaining — Spear’s is not suddenly turning into the magazine of class war. We believe that entrepreneurs who create wealth for the country deserve their rewards. We believe that people who inherit grand houses and lavish patrimonies can be custodians of our history. We believe that lawyers, wealth managers and other private client professionals do an important job. No, we are not attacking the 1 Per Cent.
But we are saying that the 1 Per Cent have a responsibility to the 99 Per Cent, especially at a time of economic hardship for the worst-off in society. There is an endless catalogue of problems afflicting society: a poor education system, cuts to every kind of service, youth unemployment at over a million, packed prisons filled with recidivists, inner-city gang culture, insufficient care for the elderly or disabled or vulnerable. Ours is a society in need and it behoves those who can help to help.
This perception of inequality and of a need for action is not confined to those who call themselves the 99 Per Cent and who set up camp outside St Paul’s or in Zuccotti Park. In an exclusive interview with editor Josh Spero, Juerg Zeltner, global CEO of Wealth Management at UBS, recognises that ‘there is a danger that the rich get richer, the poor get poorer — that is a phenomenon of this world, let’s just not fool ourselves.’ And so he urges action.
That is why in our next issue, Spear’s will be launching our new campaign, You Are The 1 Per Cent. This is not a hectoring, remonstrating campaign to make you feel bad but an encouragement to give your time, skills and — yes — money where they can have the best effect. We do not mean just giving more money to charity, although that is obviously one very satisfactory action.
Investors might like to consider supporting social enterprises, which have the double-bottom line of social and financial returns. We also urge getting involved: there are charities and organisations which can use professional and entrepreneurial skills, whether on their boards or to help them with business or legal issues, and Spear’s will partner with some of them. We mean a long-term, sustainable commitment.
Spear’s itself is participating. Our coverage of philanthropy and social enterprises has never been broader or deeper, and The Giver and the Gift is one of our most popular columns. We gave the first Spear’s City Champion Award to New City Initiative at the Wealth Management Awards in November, to recognise moral leadership in the City, for NCI’s championing of paid internships to disadvantaged young people. And we are launching the Spear’s William Hazlitt Scholarship, offering a month’s internship and £1,000 to a sixth-form student from Hackney who wants to get into journalism, which, like banking, the law and many other professions, can remain out of reach for talented but disadvantaged people.
The need for action has never been more urgent. The wonderful thing is that it is not a trial or a cost to you to act, but — as philanthropists constantly remind us — a pleasure and a good for all of us. Join us as we prove that the 1 Per Cent are not what the 99 Per Cent say you are.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about the campaign