Family Office Advisor – A View of the Industry

Family Office Advisor – A View of the Industry

by Richard C. Wilson & Family Offices Group Association Team

What I wanted to do is provide you with a view of the forest as a family office advisor. There is a financial times article that came out recently that had some numbers in it about the industry that I did not really agree with. At lots of conferences I hear people say things I do not really agree with about the industry. I have met in person face to face with over a thousand family offices now, I know over 50 billion dollar families. So we have a lot of perspective of the forest of what is going on within the industry.

I wanted to share some of the advice with you here so you can hear from somebody directly who has focused his whole life on the industry. First of all, there are over 10,000 offices globally. I heard a well-respected organization say recently that there are only one hundred in Asia and I know that there are well over one hundred in Singapore alone. Hong Kong is a big competitor and are many being started in China as well. Part of it depends on your definition of a single family office, but there are many throughout the world. I would estimate there to be over 10,000 globally and the industry is really thriving.

What I want to focus on now a few quick bullet points and a 10,000 foot perspective of what is going on within this space.

Globally the industry is thriving, but some people in local geographies feel like it is moving very slowly for them. I was recently in Toronto to speak at an event and people were saying that in Canada they feel like the industry is pretty new there, but people have been saying that for ten years.
There are only two to three formal family offices publicly known in Prague, but there are quite a few that are not publicly known. It is moving slowly in countries like the Czech Republic, Turkey, and even in Brazil. It is moving slowly for the amount of wealth that is there. It is thriving, but in certain geographies it is a slow process.
There is a big private banking vs family office turf war going on. Places like Singapore and Hong Kong there are big battles. Private banks try to keep the assets within their reach. As a result, private banks have been launching family office platforms for their private banks.
Talent is very scares in the industry. Family office executive search needs are growing, as well as family office recruiting and recruitment needs.
Single family offices are doing more co-investing and direct investing. They are really taking matters into their own hands after 2008 to 2011 economic crash.
In the future what we are going to see are more industry expansion globally, more single family offices, direct investing and co-investing investment clubs, and more formalization of the industry. There will be whole training programs, associations, and books on single family offices.
As the industry matures globally, what we are going to see is a much greater pool of talent and professionals working in the space. If you are a financial advisor, that is good news. But if you are an ultra wealth professional looking for solution within the industry, you might have to wait until one is available locally for you. If you are looking for resources in the space there is more available every single day.
That’s a quick overview of family office advisory insights from my perspective from working with many different families. There is a great need to provide more transparency and knowledge in the industry. I see my role as connecting people together and to connect people with the knowledge they need to survive within the industry. To succeed in the space it is paramount that you seek out as much knowledge and certifications within the industry as possible.

To succeed you must wear many different hats and it is ideal to be able to handle whatever is thrown your way. Networking for the long term is key to advancing up the ranks. Many of the people that are helping me out right now have known me for seven years; they knew me as I started my business. If you network with people for the long term, respect their time, be organized and prepared, give them resources all the time that will help them in the long term. There are many networking conferences and workshops to attend to get more exposure.

Be a student of the industry. I do not see this very often. Many people come to me, and even though they have seven years of experience being an analyst, they haven’t really studied the industry very much and they haven’t really dug into it. There are only about thirty books ever written about the space and I own and have read every one of them. I encourage you to do the exact same thing. If you are serious about the industry, invest the money to acquire all those books and read them front to back. Know the industry that you are working in, you will find that nobody else really does that and that will really move you past everyone else. You will have the understanding an knowledge that will help you maneuver the industry. Knowledge is power, and it is very powerful within this space.The more you give away and be helpful to everyone in the industry, the more it will come back to you full circle.

Richard C. Wilson is a family office advisor working with family offices around the global, with a focus on single family offices and $1B+ ultra-wealthy families. This article shares his view of the family office industry from a high-level perspective after meeting with over 1,000 family offices in 20+ countries around the world. To learn more about using Richard as a family office advisor please visit SingleFamilyOffices.com

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