Founded by its principal, Annie Chen, RS Group is a mid-sized Hong Kong-based family office with a mission to create a paradigm shift in people’s values and priorities so that economic growth will support, instead of jeopardize, human development and environmental sustainability.
We believe we have a choice and indeed, a responsibility, to invest in a way that contributes to the well-being of society and the planet, while generating a financial return that meets our needs. We deploy our capital with full awareness of the possible range of direct and indirect value creation (or destruction) from our investments, not only as it affects ourselves, but the wider society.
Recognizing the severity and urgency of the global issues we face today, we have chosen to apply our entire capital portfolio towards the objective of investing for a better world. We adopt a “Total Portfolio Management” approach for managing our assets, which are fully applied towards advancing the mission and goals of the Group. Value creation is measured on a “blended value” basis across the portfolio.
Our portfolio of investments and philanthropic activities are managed on a global basis, with three full-time local staff and three strategic advisors based internationally. You can visit our website at rsgroup.asia for more information.
“Being a part of a team of professionals, each bringing a unique perspective and contribution to our execution of RS Group strategy, has been a sincerely rewarding experience.”
Six years ago, Annie Chen and RS Group was the first family office I began working with as I moved from being a senior fellow with various impact investment funds and firms, to being a strategic advisor to asset owners. From the start, I was most intrigued by the commitment Annie had to what we now call Total Portfolio Management and her strong resonance with the notion of blended value as the framework for understanding how her philanthropic, near-market and market-rate investments could all be advancing impact in the world. While we’ve each learned a great deal as individuals and together as a team, perhaps my greatest lesson is one we all know: While individuals may be able to go faster, teams can go further. Being a part of a team of professionals, each bringing a unique perspective and contribution to our execution of RS Group strategy, has been a sincerely rewarding experience. And while Annie has set a tone of humility, I know from my work with other families around the world as well as from feedback I receive from colleagues in the region, that there are many who appreciate the honest, grounded approach we have sought to advance in our efforts as RS Group.
Senior Advisor — Investment
“Through its engagement with managers and willingness to seed innovative strategies with limited track-record, I believe RS Group has played an important role in further developing the impact investing space.”
With my firm onValues I have been supporting family offices align their investments to their principals’ values for more than thirteen years. However, it is still a rare privilege to work for a family office like RS Group, with a 100% commitment to sustainable / impact strategies for its entire portolio. Thanks to RS Group, we were able to show that competitive sustainable / impact strategies are available for all asset classes and that family offices have the opportunity to “do good and do well” at the same time. Through its engagement with managers and willingness to seed innovative strategies with limited track-record, I believe RS Group has played an important role in further developing the impact investing space, especially in Asia. This again is “doing good and well” because it gave us access to great managers and allowed us to co-invest alongside larger institutional investors. I appreciated working as part of a team in charge of allocating different types of capital (grants, near-market and market-rate investments). This provided opportunities for synergies and learning across the whole portfolio. We invite other family offices to explore this approach, even if they plan to apply it to only a small part of their wealth. Those that are using it find it a powerful tool to engage their principals and next-gens in using the wealth for strengthening the family’s culture and values and not just as a goal in itself.
Senior Advisor — Philanthropy
“One of RS Group’s keys to success is that it has been so open and treated every opportunity as a chance to learn.”
I recall one of my first conversations with Annie in which I said, within three months, I want to be able to have a mission and vision statement. Annie just smiled, somewhat knowingly. Little did I know then that it would take over three years, but what is more surprising is how much can be achieved without such a mission written in stone. In fact, I believe one of RS Group’s keys to success is that it has been so open and treated every opportunity as a chance to learn. Rather than starting a conversation with a potential grantee or investee with “How are your activities aligned with our goals?”, we asked, “What do you need to succeed and scale your impact?”
In my previous work, we always talked about values, but it is only at RS Group that I felt like it was really core to how we look at priorities, take decisions and make sense of our contribution to a greater good. Along the way, we often did not have answers, but that did not prevent us from taking action. If I have one advice for future total impact investors, it would be to not to be afraid, consider your values and jump. You don’t have to have all of the answers. Find like-minded people, join hands with them and just start. It’s not so much the destination, it’s the journey.
“It was not until I joined RS Group that I experienced a higher level of empowerment driven not simply out of dutiful dedication, but an innate desire to contribute towards a shared mission.”
I knew I found my calling when I met Annie and the RS Group team in 2014.
With a 15 year banking background in mergers and acquisitions and business management, I have always considered myself lucky in my career, having worked with top teams in leading multinationals in the world of finance. However, it was not until I joined RS Group that I experienced a higher level of empowerment driven not simply out of dutiful dedication, but an innate desire to contribute towards a shared mission. I finally feel that I could apply my skillset in a role that strives to contribute to larger causes close to my heart.
My journey thus far has been a most fulfilling and impactful one across many levels. The breadth of our work allows an extensive exposure across a wide range of issues, individuals and organizations on a global basis. The nuanced nature of the space requires an exploratory approach that encourages a broad and open-minded perspective yet a deep appreciation of issues faced. The more I learn, the smaller I feel; the more I see, the more urgent the issues seem. We can all do something; and the more of us the better, but we need to act fast.
I feel truly blessed to be part of a team that has dedicated its mission towards contributing to positive change. I look forward to continuing the journey with the team, as we move into the next phase of our strategy and exploring new ways of enhancing impact from our portfolio.
“In the last five years, I enjoyed our challenges and the actions we have taken to demonstrate how, as concepts, investing and values are not mutually exclusive.”
I was one of RS Group’s first employees and joined the team five years ago. When I first met Annie, I was immediately moved by her vision and commitment to address societal issues, her sense of openness and humility. Annie started RS Group from a blank sheet of paper, asking fundamental questions like “What is the role of capital? What mindset shifts are required to lead to a more sustainable planet?” Having grown up in Hong Kong and having spent the early part of my career with a mainstream financial institution, I rarely had the opportunity to step back and think about these types of questions. The opportunity to join RS Group gave me a clear path to leverage upon my skillset whist building a career that was more conscientious, and one which balanced both “the head and the heart”.
In the last five years, I enjoyed our challenges and the actions we have taken to demonstrate how, as concepts, investing and values are not mutually exclusive. We were willing to explore new investment models and “proof-of-concept” opportunities. While it is difficult to encapsulate all the learnings that took place, what has stuck with me most are three things: 1) the spirit of open inquiry, 2) the desire to be consistent and intentional in our approach, and; 3) that it is alright to not aim for perfection.
It has been a real privilege to learn and work with my fellow teammates, and I am optimistic that more and more wealth-owners are moving towards a similar trajectory.
“I am most impressed by how RS Group constantly challenges itself to drill down to the root cause of issues it is concerned with, and to discover catalytic leverage points where its support can generate maximum impact.”
I first got to know Annie and RS Group as a grantee, when I was with Ashoka’s Greater China program and RS Group was one of the organization’s first donors in the region, supporting knowledge building around social entrepreneurship. Since becoming part of the team in 2012, I have become even more impressed by how RS Group constantly challenges itself to drill down to the root cause of issues it is concerned with, and to discover catalytic leverage points where its support can generate maximum impact.
RS Group’s approach of managing both philanthropic and financial capital to generate “blended value” has allowed me to not only utilize my non-profit background for impact, but also gain insights into the many ways private and public institutions can collaborate to improve the lives of the under-served, advocate for those with no voice, and realize social and environmental justice.
RS Group’s focus on talent development and network building has also been a personal inspiration. With the support of the Group, I began convening in 2014 a monthly drinks event, bringing together young professionals interested in social innovation to share the details of their work, and to exchange ideas and solutions to social issues, as my way of giving back to the sector.