THE CAPITALIST asks Mark Preston, principal of Valere Capital, why the firm is supporting the City A.M. Christmas Appeal this year.
Why are Valere Capital supporting Opportunity International?
The relationship between us came about due to my involvement with Opportunity when I was co-head of Corporate Markets at Lloyds TSB. With the support of my boss, Truett Tate, we made Opportunity the charity of the year in Corporate Markets. When we formed Valere Capital in 2008, my partners and I felt strongly that the ethical solution must lie from within the banking sector, and we wanted to take a lead in demonstrating that the City should acknowledge its good fortune and obligations to the wider world.
What was the first charitable cause that made an impression on you?
When I was chief executive of CIBC in Europe we had a Children’s Miracle charity day where we donated a day’s commission to various children’s charities. I ran the London day and also recall, with some pain, being auctioned at a women’s only night at Grimsby winter gardens in aid of St Andrews Hospice in Grimsby.
Is it more important for people to give their time or money?
I think it depends on the person and where they are in their life.
Do you think that the rich have a moral obligation to give to charity?
I think that each has to look at his own conscience and beliefs. If you feel that you should leave it to government to even things up through taxation, fine, however my own view is that government is not always best placed to make all these decisions as effectively.
Do you think the economic crisis has affected people’s attitude to charitable donations?
Oddly, I hope that it has made people think a little more deeply about the headlong pursuit of wealth.
What is your favourite example of a charity in action?
I have spent the last few years quite heavily involved with Opportunity International. For example I met a woman in a market in Blantyre who, through a donation from Opportunity, was able to take a bus from Blantyre to Dar es Salaam, and thus buy triple the amount of stock that she would normally have been able to buy. This transformed the economics of her business, enabled her to feed her family and gave employment to another woman who ran the stall while she was travelling.
Is there anything you would like to change about the way we give?
Clearly the more tax relief you get, the more good you can do. This is a difficult debate though, as by increasing tax relief you are basically asking other taxpayers to fund charities.