On the eve of the Monaco Yacht Show (27-30 September), one of several high points in the busy principality calendar, super networker Piers Dunhill has highlighted its wider commercial importance.
Chairman of Dunhill Ventures and heir to the Dunhill luxury brand, he said: “The Yacht Show is not simply about the ultimate in wealth and luxury afloat, it’s a chance for ultra-net-worth individuals and family offices to meet and do business – and for those seeking investment to try to meet them.
“That’s why the yacht show is on the Dunhill Ventures’ roadshow programme, which takes in 45 key locations globally and why we will also be off to Singapore shortly to do the same at the F1 Grand Prix there.
“The timing for these is crucial and so are the numbers: only around 20 family offices will be represented, but these are key players, and it’s almost a word of mouth rather than an advertised event, leveraged by my contacts book and network and those of my 20-strong team.
“As a finance boutique, we provide high quality consultation and strategy focused on capital raising and capital gain. We want to bring financial success to the investors and solid growth to the companies we work with, while mindful of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals. Dunhill Ventures carefully selects the most innovative and sustainable technology companies to present to our investors.”
He added that promising start-ups often struggled to fund potentially world-changing tech projects, due to turbulence in traditional banking and venture capitalism since the turn of the millennium.
Crowdfunding – a popular avenue for capital in the USA – has helped, but Dunhill believes family offices are the real power in the market.
These private wealth management vehicles are established by ultra-high-net-worth families, each one likely to administer at least USD120 million worth of assets and deliver services typically including investment management, financial planning, estate and tax planning, philanthropic investing, and concierge services.
Piers Dunhill, 29, is the great-great grandson of Sir Alfred Dunhill, who founded the eponymous luxury brand in 1893, focusing on smokers’ needs and the then new breed of motoring enthusiasts. The Dunhill shop in London's Duke Street attracted many prominent and loyal customers including novelists Rudyard Kipling and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Piers Dunhill is following in those same high-level networking footsteps, jetting around the world to attend face to face meetings and stage exclusive networking events in the Middle East, Far East, the USA, and Europe, but catering largely to family offices.
“Building relationships and trust is vital to family offices,” said Dunhill. “Many desire ethical investments that make an impression or do some good. I call it ‘impact investing’ or ‘conscience investing’ and it’s my passion – one accelerated by the pandemic and major issues facing the world, notably climate change.
“So, we've worked with amazing companies across education, healthcare, mental health, green energy, food and agritech. We aim to connect with mission rather than profit driven companies, but work across the whole range of what makes people seek and offer investment.
“I’ve always been a compulsive networker, but COVID made me step up the pace and really press towards ethical investing. I saw how asleep the world was.
“The planet is obviously suffering; CO2 emissions are causing massive issues as we have seen lately, with extreme heat, forest fires and flooding. Extreme weather will only get worse, so we’ll also have increased mass migration in the next 10 years.
“But the world’s biggest issues also offer the biggest opportunities, so anyone investing in the ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) space is moving into the right industries for the foreseeable future.
“Yes, there may be some ‘greenwashing’, but that is eclipsed by so many amazing technologies and infrastructure projects able to fundamentally change the current bleak outlook.
“Unfortunately, I can’t talk about those we have helped instigate because NDAs (Non-Disclosure Agreements) are all part of the deal, but I’m proud to say that we have worked with companies that prevent diseases and are bringing new medications to market, and we can talk soon about a massive hydrogen-based clean energy initiative.”