A Personal Commitment to Philanthropy
When John Armour joined Capital Group Private Client Services more than 20 years ago, one of his first assignments was to help manage The Rape Foundation’s endowment.
In that role, Armour provided thoughtful financial management services and helped establish key policies aimed at the long-term growth and preservation of the foundation’s assets.
But as is so often the case with Capital Group Private Client Services and its associates, Armour’s relationship with the organization and its founder, Gail Abarbanel, grew. Abarbanel, a social worker by training, was a pioneer in offering support for victims of rape.
“I was so impressed with the work that Gail and the foundation were doing for victims of these terrible acts,” Armour says. Taking advantage of Capital Group’s generous matching opportunities for its associates and the nonprofit organizations they champion, he was able to amplify his donations to the foundation.
But that was only the start. Abarbanel soon invited Armour to join the board, a position he has held for years.
“I started as an advisor,” Armour says. “But it became much more personal than that. I suspect I will be on the board long after I retire.”
For Abarbanel, Armour’s service on the board’s executive committee has been exceptional.
“John’s knowledge, insights and guidance as a board member have been very helpful to the foundation,” Abarbanel says. “The relationship with Capital Group has been outstanding. Their contributions have helped make it possible for the foundation to respond to critical needs in our community, including meeting the special needs of rape victims and sexually abused children during the pandemic.”
Today, Armour is the president of Capital Group Private Client Services, which at the end of August 2021 had 192 associates and managed $36.5 billion in assets for high-net-worth individuals and their families, charitable foundations and nonprofits.
The company is an integral part of Capital Group, which was founded in Los Angeles in 1931, when the Depression was only two years old and the drought-ravaged Southern Plains had been dubbed the “Dust Bowl.” The firm has since grown exponentially, with 8,000-plus employees around the globe at year-end 2020 and more than $2.6 trillion in assets under management as of June 30, 2021.
Beyond its investment and financial services, Capital Group has a focus on philanthropy that empowers its associates to give to charities that matter to them, serve on nonprofit boards and become the civic leaders of today and tomorrow. In the past decade, the firm gave away more than $250 million through direct grants, matching gifts stewarded by its associates and volunteer hours. And in the pandemic year of 2020, when the need was greatest, Capital Group doubled down, deploying more than $30 million – a commitment that rivals the generosity of some of the nation’s larger charitable foundations.
“Supporting philanthropy is in our DNA at Capital Group and has been throughout our 90-year history,” Armour says.
Beyond direct work that necessitates a deep understanding of philanthropy, Capital Group Private Client Services associates are encouraged to join nonprofit boards and make donations, which the firm matches. Some 450 Capital Group associates sit on nonprofit boards.
“One of the important benefits of having a generous and robust charitable giving program in Capital Group’s mind is that it helps position our associates, particularly the next generation, to be civic leaders,” Armour says, adding that the company may be Los Angeles’ largest “exporter of next-generation board members.”
“We want our legacy to be more than just giving away money,” Armour notes.
This emphasis on service also creates a veritable think tank of shared experiences that are deployed when serving social sector clients, whether nonprofits, charitable foundations or philanthropically engaged individuals and families.
In Armour’s view, nonprofits should be run like for-profit businesses, where financial risk and reward are weighed and farsighted planning helps promote sustainability and growth. “But a problem for nonprofits and their long-term financial stewardship is rotation of board members, and especially the finance committee,” he says.
When those committees roll over, Capital Group Private Client Services and its associates are there to help nonprofits stick to their existing financial plans. Maintaining this focus can help organizations grow their endowments and reassure donors that their gifts are being used wisely.
Bob Kelly is Capital Group Private Client Services’ Los Angeles regional director. Like so many of the associates he has managed and worked with throughout his 16-year tenure at Capital Group, Kelly is deeply engaged in nonprofit service – notably as a board member of the Los Angeles County Regional Food Bank.
”My board service makes me a better person,” Kelly says. “It humbles me to be living in Los Angeles and the United States with people who have had unfortunate turns in life that make them have basic needs. My focus keeps my feet on the ground.”
With the firm’s clients, Kelly and his team take the long view: a deep focus on helping families maintain their philanthropic legacy during intergenerational transitions.
“So much of our business is working with wealthy families who have very strong philanthropic interests,” Kelly says. “We help them plan for how much they can leave and how they can make their charitable gifts. We spend a lot of time educating the next generation, or even two, helping them write their family mission statements and working to solidify future generations’ commitment to philanthropy.”
He has several clients who have been working with Capital Group for three generations. In fact, Capital Group Private Client Services’ client retention rate was 97% as of December 31, 2020.
When the pandemic hit, it “severely tested” the financial assumptions that some clients had made, Kelly says. He and his team were able to help guide their nonprofit clients, from private schools to major art institutions, via the models of different economic scenarios and potential financial responses to them that Capital Group Private Client Services constructs for their clients.
“A big part of wealth management is planning,” Kelly says. “With every client, nonprofit endowment or charitable foundation, we create a visual road map that looks out over decades.”
That thoughtful approach to long-term planning aligns with Capital Group’s culture as a whole. It is a place where giving back is not only celebrated and reinforced, but pumps through the veins of the firm’s employees, from young associates to the highest levels of leadership.
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Executive Vice President, Regional Director: Bob Kelly
Capital Group Private Client Services started more than four decades ago as a family office, managing the assets of our parent company’s executives and loved ones.
And our approach today remains the same: we care for your wealth as if it were our own. In fact, many current and former Capital Group senior leaders invest alongside our clients.
We’re accountable only to the people who matter: our clients.
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We know you care about where your money goes and how it is used. Connect with this organization’s leadership in order to begin to build this important relationship. Your email will be sent directly to Executive Vice President, Regional Director Bob Kelly.
So much of our business is working with wealthy families who have very strong philanthropic interests. We help them plan for how much they can leave and how they can make their charitable gifts. We spend a lot of time educating the next generation, or even two, helping them write their family mission statements and working to solidify future generations’ commitment to philanthropy.