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Philanthropy takes backseat for Indian HNIs

Charity donations have suffered as the uber-rich are preferring to maintain their opulent lifestyles over philanthropy in the gloomy economic environment, a specially commissioned report to ‘decode’ the high net worth (HNI) families said here on Tuesday.

‘The high net worth families give priority to maintain their lifestyles, which gives them the societal status, due to which, we have found some shifts in behaviours, with contributions to charity going down,’ rating agency Crisil, president for research Mukesh Agarwal said. He said the phenomenon of lifestyles maintenance is a universal factor across the high net worth households with all the segments showing a propensity to reallocate resources towards the purpose.

Self-made entrepreneurs and wealth inheritors are found to have chosen to cut down on charity, while the professionals dig into their savings for the purpose, Agarwal said, citing the report which has surveyed 150 high net worth families and relied on official data from a host of agencies.

Any family having a net worth of over Rs 25 crore qualifies to be an HNH, he said. As a percentage of income allocation, contribution to charity and other philanthropic activities slipped to 4.4 per cent in 2011 from 2010, the report titled Top of the Pyramid commissioned by Kotak Wealth Management said.

Interestingly, it found that there was 50 per cent increase in spending on apparels and accessories by the HNHs in 2011 over 2010, followed by 23 per cent hike in vintage spirits.

It said allocation towards meeting expenses has risen to 28.2 per cent from the previous year's 22.4 per cent while also finding that individuals in such HNHs are allocating more income towards enlarging personal wealth rather than into their respective business as a result of economic slowdown.

The number of HNHs rose by 19,000 during 2011 to 81,000 with the report pegging the number to grow to 2.86 lakh in the next five years. In investment patterns, the report highlighted how allocations towards the highly volatile real estate sector dropped to 30 per cent in 2011 versus 37 per cent in 2010.
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