Q: Tell us about your story and professional background in your own words.
A: My personal and professional backgrounds are crossing paths and what I do today is the result of my personal experience that has affected my choices in my life and career. I am Armenian by decent so for generations my family has been moving from one country to another. I grew up in Canada where I graduated and discovered how Canada integrates migrants from different ethnicity that have a right to different paths.
Canada is one of the most welcoming countries to migration. I started my career in the financial sector in a program attracting high net worth investors allowing foreign families to invest in the country. These investments support SMEs, which represent 40% of the Canadian economy. Ten years ago, I started my own investment firm, I became one of the partners in a private-public partnership with the government on this program and from there onwards over the last 5 years we diversified and took this Canadian know-how to many other countries internationally. We currently work with nine governments including Hungary, Cyprus, Bulgaria and some Caribbean islands that have economic citizenship programs, such as Antigua, Saint Lucia, Dominica and Grenada. In summary, today I spend most of my time working with governments on defining policies and strategies on how to optimize the legislations in the programs and attract the kind of investors and migrants they want in order to have the bigger impact on their economies and social contribution.
Q: How and why did you decide to launch Global Citizen?
A: While working with governments and various clients we decided that there needed to be a platform of media that describes what it means to be a Global Citizen in today’s world. While I’m privileged to work with this 0.1% of the wealthy migrants, who are moving from one country to another by making investments and generating billions of dollars of revenues for the economies, we need to implement a higher impact on the other 99.9% of the migrants, a big number of which are refugees. This is how the Global Citizen Forum last year was focused on the impact that this 0.1% of wealthy migrants can have on the refugee crisis in Europe and we had people like Kofi Annan, José Manuel Barroso, Wyclef Jean, Prime Ministers of countries, Ministers of Migration, Policy making and more. And we have a magazine, which as well goes every two months to the same audience of global thinkers and influencers, called Global Citizen. While we work on a daily basis with clients and governments, we believe that through media, social media, events and the magazine we can spread the message to the larger audience, raising awareness on global citizenship issues and opportunities that exist.
Q: Why do you think that Philanthropy is necessary in our day and age?
A: Today’s philanthropy is evolving. Hopefully it will be disrupted by technology in the same way as all industries have been disrupted to increase impact. Even though there is a large pool of donations done worldwide, a lot of them are incentivised from tax perspective to push people to give more. This is what countries from the developing world are doing by giving the tax incentive to donations. The other challenge is with money that is gathered through philanthropy – how the impact can be multiplied. Having foundations with billions of dollars in their bank accounts is not philanthropy. So, it is what you do with this money and how you change lives that define the next generation of philanthropists. In our case, again we are trying to create something called the Global Citizen Tax, where we are working with governments to implement something where when a person invests in a country for second residence or citizenship and he is very wealthy we want to have a forced tax of 2% on the investment that will go into a direct refugee European venture fund. This initiative initially will be focused on the European Union, where it is easier to implement such legislation. Today we have 8 countries that are receiving investors and most of these countries are the same that are receiving the refugees, but while the investments in the programs generate money for the different sectors, a very small percentage of this goes back to the refugee programs. About one billion euros can be contributed over the next 3-4 years for the refugees and Europe needs that money for integration.
Q: Do you see any new trends rising in the philanthropic arena?
A: The reports, which we are going to launch as of next month, show that the emerging markets are catching up in becoming a more important factor in the international philanthropic arena. All emerging markets from Asia to Middle East and from Eastern Europe to Africa, produce a new generation of wealth. These new entrepreneurs, new families, must be taught how to become philanthropists, how to give back. We believe that philanthropists are going to come from these places more so than from traditional markets like North America or Europe. I think education and kids’ migration are topics that will be mostly encouraged by philanthropists in the next decade. If we want to fight terrorism then this will be more successfully done through education, by providing those kids with the right educational tools, giving them the right choices to make at early life. It is a long investment for a good cause
Armand Arton, Esq.
Founder & President, Arton Capital, Founder, Global Citizen Forum, Founder & Trustee, Global Citizen Foundation
Mr. Armand Arton serves as Chief Executive Officer and President of Arton Capital Inc. Mr. Arton serves as an Executive Vice President of Immigrant Investor Division at Arton Investments. He is responsible for leading the operation of Arton Investments’s International Investment business with a particular emphasis on the Quebec based Immigrant Investment Program. Mr. Arton has built a solid reputation in the Financial Services sector having worked in some of the countries leading institutions. His background includes several years working in the investment field, primarily in the private client area. He has an extensive background serving the specialized needs of high net worth investors around the world. Mr. Arton started his career with the National Bank of Canada, and progressed to an Assistant Vice President role at BMO Nesbitt Burns. In 2003, he joined Hampton Securities where he became the Executive Director for their Immigrant Investor Division. Mr. Arton is a co-founder and Trustee of Global Citizen Foundation. He is an ambassador of the global citizen movement. Mr. Arton is also registered Consultant Lobbyist with the Government Authorities in Canada. He is a Patron of the Sovereign Art Foundation and is actively involved in various charity organizations around the world helping unprivileged children and supporting education. Mr. Arton is also a member of the Clinton Global Initiative. His professional designations include Chartered Investment Manager (CIM) and a Fellow of the Canadian Securities Institute (FCSI). Mr. Arton graduated with a BA in Finance from Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commerciales (HEC) and an International Baccalaureate from College Brebeuf.