By Nicole Sykes, Director of Policy and Communications at PBE

Angela Burdett-Coutts had a problem. She had come into a large sum of money and knew that she wanted that money to do some good in the world. She also had the additional misfortune of being a woman in 1837, when women might be trusted with a little housekeeping, but not a legacy totalling £170 million by today’s standards.

Faced with this conundrum, Burdett-Coutts turned to her friend Charles Dickens. Even as Dickens was churning out Oliver Twist, the author agreed to help her. As the granddaughter of Thomas Coutts, founder of the eponymous bank, she had long been surrounded by the trappings of wealth, so Dickens helped open her eyes to the day-to-day challenges faced by the nation’s poor. He helped administer and oversee how funds were spent to tackle those challenges. He also helped her assess the merits of the applications for aid that she received and to give to a huge variety of causes, from the precursor to the NSPCC to funding for improved sanitation in London’s slums.

In short, Dickens did everything a philanthropy adviser would today.

The number of people now who wish, as Burdett-Coutts did, to put at least some of their money towards doing good has been growing at a rapid pace. A recent survey found 58% of individual investors globally said that they have a responsibility to address social issues with their investments. This trend is only expected to accelerate as wealth transfers across the generations, because younger people tend to be more purpose-driven than those who came before. Indeed, millennial investors are more likely than any other age group to believe that returns have to be sacrificed to generate social good, and they are the most interested in sustainable investing.

Yet there is widespread dissatisfaction with the options available to people who want their money to have purpose beyond profit. There is doubt over how much difference ESG funds are really making. Impact investing can be the answer for some, but not for everyone.

Philanthropy can be part of the solution. People looking to make a difference can do so in an almost limitless number of ways. They can have greater confidence that their money is being put to use changing lives, or the environment, for the better. And with philanthropy, it is far easier to see funds turned directly into life-changing experiences for disadvantaged children, vital conservation efforts, or innovative research.

Giving to charity can be as easy as a tap on your phone, but giving well and giving large amounts is challenging. With more than 160,000 charities nationally, a plethora of giving vehicles - from venture philanthropy to donor-advised funds - and an array of tax incentives in life and death, good advice on philanthropy is as critical as good advice on investment. But research by Camden Wealth suggests just 4% of ultra-high-net-worth individuals are very satisfied with the philanthropy advice they receive. Never mind great expectations, the services they are receiving are not offering the bare minimum, if philanthropy advice is offered at all.

Private banks, IFAs and asset managers all have a role to play in changing that. When they take clients through the options for their finances, clients should be made aware of the full spectrum of capital - from traditional investing, all the way through to social investment and philanthropy. Financial advice that misses out philanthropy misses the mark for that growing set of clients who want to have a social impact. It also misses a trick for advisers and firms, as failing to offer philanthropy services means failing to grasp an unrivalled opportunity to build close relationships with clients and indeed their families.

The FCA has been consulting on how it drives a necessary step change in sustainable finance. If the regulator is serious about making sure consumers have access to the information, products and services they need to have a positive impact, then they must act on the cultural, incentive and knowledge barriers which currently impede the spirit of Dickens’ philanthropy advice permeating today’s financial services sector.

The FCA should start with requiring all relevant financial advisers to learn about philanthropy, alongside other forms of sustainable finance, as they qualify, in addition to mandating CPD covering philanthropy. It may seem a small act, but it is essential to give advisers the confidence they need to raise philanthropy with their clients and to set in train the changes that are urgently needed to give clients the services they are seeking. As Dickens himself wrote in Martin Chuzzlewit, the novel he dedicated to Burdett-Coutts, “Change begets change. Nothing propagates so fast.” A relatively small change to qualifications and curriculums for financial advisers is the first essential step to propagating potentially substantial amounts of giving to causes that can make a big difference.