In this spotlight profile, we are speaking to Sanam Ramchandani, Deputy CEO and Founder of LCA Solutions. LCA Solutions is an award-winning multi-family office based in Hong Kong that services its clients overall needs as a “One Stop Solution center”. Originally focused primarily on financial issues they also provide a forum to discuss and source answers to the numerous non-financial issues clients may face including topics such as succession, generational transfer, matrimonial structuring and family governance.
Sanam, thank you for taking the time to speak with us today.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background and why you decided to create your own Multi Family Office?
For the last 30 years, I have been in the financial industry and actively participated in growing the Asian Private Banking space that we see today. Before founding LCA Solutions in 2010, I had been in senior management roles within international banks directly servicing the needs of High-Net-Worth clients but also answering the requirements of the bank itself.
Following the financial crisis, I felt that a boutique approach was more conducive to offering the style of services I felt was needed for clients and hence started LCA Solutions, which combines the quality of the process driven models of leading international banks with the attention and tailor-made approach that only a boutique can afford to provide by servicing a limited client base. Quality and Passion is not easily scalable.
Can you expand on the link between your service offering and the need for succession and family planning advice?
We believe too much focus is put on investment related topics by Asian families while communication and succession issues are not appropriately dealt with, thus increasing the risk of future destabilisation within the family.
As human beings going through life, we all face issues and sometimes are overwhelmed by them thus procrastinating on our reply.
By facilitating discussions, we provide a forum to source answers recognising that starting the process is not always easy without external help.
In your line of work, you need to take into account various family issues, one of which being marriage and potential divorce; How do you approach these situations with your clients?
Many patriarchs and matriarchs are extremely worried about their sons or daughters getting married to individuals that may be less wealthy than themselves. From our experience, they most commonly ask about trusts, prenuptial agreements or postnuptial agreements to protect their children from potential “gold-diggers”; but also protect the overall family assets from future issues arising through the actions of a specific family member (like Divorce).
This might sound really “unromantic” but parents, especially wealthy ones, will always have a legitimate concern about the intentions of their children’s future spouses.
Our advice is hence to always start these types of discussions early with all family members and not when they bring someone home for whom they have serious feelings or are in the process of divorcing. You need to discuss concepts without a specific person, or event, in mind in order to avoid being perceived as targeting that specific individual or issue.
We advise the family that to succeed, such discussions must rely on the buy-in of all those concerned and must be perceived as transparent and fair (or at least with adequate explanations on the reasoning behind the potential contentious decision) in order to have the highest chance of long-lasting success and avoid future destabilizing issues within a family.
Specifically speaking, I know you focus on assisting women with their respective financial issues. Can you explain more about what you’re seeing especially in Hong Kong and how you’re trying to empower your women clientele to take charge of their lives and give them financial freedom?
During my career, I noticed that many women in general leave financial matters to their spouse as they feel that it is a world that is too complex for them. Many times, women feel that their time is better spent in either raising a family or advancing their career and really burrowing down doing so. That is why women do very well in general.
Although I do not focus on women as such, I have come across various situations and have noticed a common thread of anxiety that women seem to have when they have to deal with financial issues.
It is with this is mind, that I feel that being a woman myself who has been in the financial arena for over 30 years, my experience may be valuable to other women. As a wealth manager, I see my job as someone who can definitely minimize the anxiety as a result of the “unknown”.
Financial freedom stems from the fact that you know you will be able to continue a certain lifestyle that is comparable to what you were used to.
Why do you think it’s especially important to educate women about financial freedom especially in Hong Kong?
Whether it is in Hong Kong or elsewhere, women should feel comfortable when discussing financial issues. To achieve that, it is important that they have the opportunity to understand the various concepts at hand in the financial markets and not be taken aback by the “jargon” used that makes it look more difficult than it is.
As mentioned before, most believe that financial freedom is obtained when your financial income provides enough to cover the needs of your lifestyle.
Since you should not spend what you do not have, it is important to be honest and realistic about financial expectations and hence the most important element is to have the client understand when the capital amount at their disposal is not enough to generate their required cashflow.
Hong Kong is one of the most expensive cities in the world so when talking about the financial impact of divorce, the hardest talks are often the most important ones to have. Discussions such as moving to a less expensive city or, in the case of a housewife, re-entering the workforce in one way or another should always be discussed as a potential solution; even if not the preferred choice for some.
But it is important to have an honest and realistic discussion; only then can someone feel they can make the right decision for them and regain control.
What tips can you provide women who are going through a divorce and how to uncouple in a way that brings financial freedom and independence?
When heading towards a divorce, you sadly need to prepare for the worst and hope for the best; thus, I advise clients to map their assets, so they know what they could expect from the proceedings.
Too often we see that the wife has limited knowledge of the intricate details of the couples’ financial situation. Hence it is important for them to obtain that information, or at least gather as much as possible of the available information.
Emotions, by definition, are always going to be high and as financial advisors, it is important for us to try to defuse the situation as much as possible so the client can focus on the financial facts.
Staying calm and objective, is easier said than done, I know. Once the decision is made then it is imperative to look at the situation objectively and “keep calm and carry on”.
The emotional toll of going through a divorce is bad enough without having to worry about how to manage your finances. But it is important to always remain realistic about financial issues.
Our goal is to ease part of that burden by answering four action points for our clients: understand what level of financial freedom they can expect from their divorce settlement, open new private bank accounts for them to start afresh, formulate the investment strategy that will be required to achieve their financial objectives and finally implement it while reporting back to them in full transparency so they can have peace of mind to focus on other issues.
Independence is also a frame of mind which can only be achieved if one feels at ease and in control. To know exactly how much you have, and how much you can spend, is definitely a big part of that control.
About Sanam Ramchandani:
Born in Hong Kong, Sanam has over 30 years of experience in the International Financial Industry. She co-founded LCA Solutions, an award-winning Hong Kong multi-family office, whose primary focus is providing wealth management services to individual clients, families and their family businesses. As an SFC regulated multi-family office, LCA Solutions provides a complete range of investment services but also a forum to discuss non-financial issues such as family governance, succession planning, matrimonial structuring etc. Through her own experience and network, Sanam can answer all your financial needs as well as help source answers to issues such as prenuptial or postnuptial agreements, divorce proceedings or family matrimonial structuring.
For more information about Sanam Ramchandani and her company, LCA Solutions, you can visit their website: https://www.lcasolutions.asia/