The Problem with Low Profile Single Family Offices

The Problem with Low Profile Single Family Offices

by Richard C. Wilson & Family Offices Group Association Team

There are multiple frustrations created for single family offices by remaining low-profile.  These include being left out of investment banking and direct investment opportunities, not being able to identify talent as readily when it is needed, missing out on the next great investment fund managers, and not growing trust in third parties that could lead to partnerships, shared research and resources, etc.  I know this to be true because several dozen billion dollar families and a slew of $100M+ families have asked me for help getting access to each other, to deal flow, etc.

About 100 new platforms have been launched lately to take advantage of the Jobs Act, they all aim to connect investors to investing opportunities.  I pressed one earlier this week in Toronto to tell me how they are different from the other 99, and the handful which have been thriving for 7+ years now without the Jobs Act wind behind them and I get very passionate responses about how this platform has more credible partners, and does “everything.”  Platforms are not the solution at this point because it is such a messy unorganized new area within the industry, at least not until the majority die off and the Microsoft, Amazon, or Walmart of that battleground emerges.

One partial solution I don’t see much of yet but that we are starting to step into is acting as a Chief Direct Investment Officer role on behalf of families we work with.  This includes helping look after current direct investments, reporting on financial performance of these entities, screening new investment opportunities for the family, and helping connect the family to other large single family office groups which could share deal flow and insight on transactions in the future.  This type of Chief Direct Investment Officer role is not often covered well by traditional in-house CIOs who have worked exclusively with long only, real estate, hedge fund, and private equity investing typically, and no outsourced CIO firms that I know of  offer to cover this area as of right now.

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