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What are Family Offices?

Daphne Mallory
Daphne Mallory

The term family offices is descriptive of financial services that are offered to wealthy families by a group of financial professionals. The main mission is to help wealthy families sustain, grow, and preserve their wealth. Those who work for family offices represent one or multiple families in matters including legal, investment, and real estate. Some family offices represent only a single family because of the large amount of assets and tasks required to manage the family wealth. In addition to traditional financial services, many offices offer miscellaneous services to clients, such as travel bookings, bill payment, and tax preparation.

Many wealthy families choose to hire the help of family offices as an alternative to traditional wealth management firms. These families often prefer to be the single client, which means all of the attention and energy is focused on meeting their needs. Family offices are often more willing to offer flexible services to the families they serve than wealth management firms, which emphasize financial management only. For example, a client may request the family office to pay all of the family’s personal and business bills, and the family office is often willing to accommodate those requests. A wealth management firm is more likely to decline those tasks, because it has multiple types of clients, which would make it difficult to accommodate all of their unique requests.

Businesswoman talking on a mobile phone
Businesswoman talking on a mobile phone

Some family economics revolve around the success or failure of a private company owned and operated by the family throughout the years. Advice for sustaining the family business and succession training and planning is often a necessary service provided by family offices. Professionals can help families develop best practices, policies, and plans for succession in future generations so that the business continues to operate long after the deaths of founding family members. Family offices may also directly handle some of the business and management tasks of the family business, as directed by the family. They also help families navigate the legal challenges that a private company will face due to changing government regulations and market conditions.

A family who wishes to engage in charitable works may also hire the services of family offices to create and maintain a private foundation. Like family-owned businesses, there often has to be adequate succession planning for future family members to take on the responsibilities of directing or advising on the works of the foundation. Family office professionals are often skilled and trained to help manage all aspects of operating private foundations.

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