What you can learn from one of Philippines' richest families


Posted at Dec 20 2014 10:31 AM | Updated as of Dec 22 2014 08:56 PM

Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala II, Chairman and CEO of Ayala Corporation, talks during a session of the World Economic Forum on East Asia in Manila. Photo by Sikarin Thanachaiary for World Economic Forum

MANILA – The Ayala family is among the richest billionaires in the country, and they endured world wars, dictatorships, political rebellions and global financial crises to form the largest conglomerate in the Philippines.

ANC On The Money's resident financial adviser Salve Duplito said there are three lessons to learn from the Ayalas:

1) It takes time to build wealth.

The Ayala Corporation was founded in 1834, and its success today took 180 years of hard work.

“When we look at somebody a lot wealthier than us, we must look beyond their big houses, posh cars, huge parties, and lifestyle. Before they got there, chances are they worked hard and long and sacrificed a lot too,” Duplito said on ANC’s “On The Money.”

2) You must learn to insulate yourself against crises of all kinds

In the last 180 years, Ayala Corp. went through two world wars and after World War 2, the company faced some difficulties as it had assets, but no cash.

The company also went through political turmoil that plagued the Philippines in the 1980s.

Despite that, Ayala Corp. today owns the country’s biggest developer, the second biggest telecommunications company, the country’s third biggest bank, and a water utility company.

It is also into electronics, automotive, business process outsourcing, power, and transport infrastructure.

“Crises, whether it’s financial, social, or political, will always happen. The person who can be conservative and bold at the same time, and deal with a world that is in a constant state of flux, will win,” said Duplito.

She added that when there are crises, the first insulation is mindset, second is financial smarts and the third is ability to deal with change.

Ayala Corp. chairman Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, in an interview with CNN in 2012, said the company was able to keep up with the times because it did not fear change.

“We have not remained static. We have adjusted to the changing times. Change is not something that neither of us, Fernando nor I, fear,” he said.

3) Acquiring wealth is not as important as how you get it

The Ayala Corp. is known for its corporate governance policies, being recently awarded the 19th Annual IMD-Lombard Odier Global Family Business Award at the 25th Summit of the Family Business Network International.

The award is considered the most prestigious recognition for family businesses around the world

“When it comes to building wealth, never forget that the amount of money you have in your investment and savings accounts is not as important as how it got there,” said Duplito.

The Ayalas currently rank 9th in the Forbes’ Philippine annual rich list, with an estimated net worth of $3.4 billion.