Green -- not greed -- is good these days, especially if you're rich and want to be seen to care.
Some clients are increasingly seeking environmentally friendly investments and ways to minimize their impact on the environment, their private bankers said at the Reuters Wealth Management Summit in Geneva.
I think more and more we're seeing more interest in that area, whether its green environment or whether its climate change, said Samir Raslan, who is in charge of Citigroup's wealth management operations in central and eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
There's more interest to participate not just because of wanting to be green but also there are opportunities as the world starts focusing on climatic change and starts focusing on alternative energy sources because there will be companies that will benefit from that because governments will have to spend money to get things done.
Wealth managers help rich customers -- typically those with assets of $5 million (2.4 million pounds) or more -- manage their fortunes and their services include investment advice, estate planning and various other tailored services.
The most common way that the wealthy participate is by investing part of their assets in clean energy or sustainable businesses.
Daniel de Fernando Garcia, head of asset management and private banking at Grupo BBVA, said that some of their clients were actively involved in seeking green investments, such as a solar panel factory in Mexico.
The response was fantastic, Fernando said.
Al Gore, the former U.S. vice president who has pushed for greater awareness of environment issues, is involved in running a fund that seeks to invest in clean energy and environment-friendly businesses, while aiming for high investment returns. It's these kinds of funds where the rich seek to put their assets.
Philanthropy is also an area where the rich are shifting their attention, as wealth managers are already becoming more involved in how their clients give to charities.
There is increasing concern about the environment, said Maximilian Martin, head of philanthropy services at UBS, adding that he has organised seven initiatives for wealthy donors to give for climate change issues.
Some are also beginning to recognise that their lifestyles can have a bigger impact on the environment, whether by using private jets or maintaining large estates.
On a per-passenger basis, private jets spew out 10 to 20 times the carbon emissions compared with commercial flights, according to various industry estimates.
That's why the wealthy are also spending money on carbon offsets, which has become a booming industry by allowing people and businesses to pay to neutralise the impact that they have on carbon emissions.
What you see is that the rich are offsetting their carbon footprints in a very strategic way, said Eric Carlson, executive director of the Carbon Fund, a group that encourages individuals and businesses to neutralise their carbon impact through reduction and carbon offsets.
Carlson says that the rich are likely the pioneers, as they are willing to spend money at the early stage of a product or technology before its becomes more affordable for the masses, drawing an analogy with the early use of mobile phones by the wealthy.
The rich are subsidising the market now and some day it will transform the clean energy market, he said.