Advisor Glen Macdonald of U.S. Trust (center) speaking with students at the Borough of Manhattan Community College

Glen Macdonald, senior vice president and private client advisor for U.S. Trust-Bank of America Private Wealth Management in Florham Park, New Jersey, appreciated the value of learning for a long time.

Macdonald was a political economist in the 1980s, doing research in Mexico, Europe and other spots thanks to support from the Fulbright Program, Embassy of France and Ford Foundation. He also taught at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill before going to work for the consulting firm Coopers & Lybrand (later PwC).

In 2004, a philanthropist asked him to launch a peer-learning network for both practicing and emerging philanthropists, which later became the Wealth & Giving Forum. “That’s how my interest in personal wealth, its uses and decision-making about it were kindled. When I returned to the private sector in 2007, I chose the wealth and investment management field,” he explained.

Today, the advisor’s practice serves endowed nonprofits, private family foundations and charitably minded individuals who want comprehensive financial advisory services.

“I was attracted to U.S. Trust by its long-standing roots working with philanthropic families and institutions, the power of its fiduciary model, the unparalleled breadth and rigor of its open-architecture investment management platform — including socially responsible and impact investing options — and an unmatched suite of philanthropic advisory capabilities,” he explained.

Over the years, Macdonald has heard many stories, aspirations and about philanthropic journeys that affected his understanding of the role of wealth in people’s lives and “how to marry money and purpose.” Plus, he points out, these interactions have made him more keenly aware “of the central role that values and mission play in wealth allocation and investing.”

Reaching Out

Currently, the advisor serves as advisory board chair of the Wealth & Giving Forum. He’s also supported the work of Year Up — New York, the Borough of Manhattan Community College Foundation and Rising Tide Capital in New Jersey.

“What they all have in common is helping disadvantaged inner city young adults have a chance to become educated, enter the workforce and start businesses, all of which turns them from feeling listless or hopeless into productive and inspiring members of their community and society,” he explained.

In addition, these activities have convinced the advisor that the return on philanthropic investments can be “quite high for society, but can also reap both financial rewards and immeasurable psychic value to the donor or investor.”

Macdonald is pleased that the Wealth & Giving Forum is making a difference. A young woman of inherited wealth who attended one of its events told him that afterwards she decided to start a retail store in Atlanta that employs traditionally excluded women and donates its profits to underprivileged women and children in the area. “Over the years, we have received many such letters about how our gatherings catalyzed new and exciting endeavors,” he explained.

At another event, Scott Harrison, the founder of charity: water, met philanthropist Philip Berber, co-chair of A Glimmer of Hope. They went on to form a partnership that has raised millions of dollars to bring clean water wells to Ethiopia and other parts of Africa, according to the advisor.

“Most of my U.S. Trust colleagues serve on nonprofit boards, volunteer and donate to charitable causes,” he added. “It is terrific to work with a group of people who all really care about the communities around them, and their giving is authentic.”