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Family Office Interviews - The CIO

Who? The CIO of a large Single Family Office

Q: When people ask what you do, how do you answer?

A: I work in a family office on the investment side and that's all I say. People aren't usually aware of what a family office is so that conversation doesn’t go much further. If I mention that I work in investments, the conversation moves to that theme, rather than anything specific about family offices.

Q: What, in your opinion is the main role of the CIO or head of investments for a family office?

A: There are two types, a CIO that that is a collaborator with an active principal or where the business owner is involved. They act as a sounding board or co-CIO. A good way to describe it is that the principal is the co-pilot that owns the plane. In others, where the family are not as involved, it’s very similar to any chief investment role in that they co-ordinate the investment team and is very similar role to an institutional asset manager CIO.

Other aspects include solving for bespoke family member issues which can be very broad. This is more prevalent in the co-pilot model where education also plays a major part, particularly informal education. This is true for both models but most important in the co-pilot model. This is unique as it's almost like mentoring your boss. For wealth created in the financial industry or which comes from a very financially literate background, they are unlikely to hire a true to form CIO as they see this as their role. When there is a very hands-on family investor, the CIO becomes the co-pilot or research analyst or trader.

Gatekeeping. If the family think they need significant time spent on unsolicited approaches plus relationships (and have someone that acts as gatekeeper). Some people don't enjoy that role and therefore the CIO can take this on. The aim is to productively filter an enormous opportunity set amid the sheer number of these approaches.

Succession planning. You can’t think of this as an institutional firm where you know there is a measure of succession planning. It is imperative that you and your team are more forward thinking about partnering the family. Even activating that strategy succession early with a thought to your own redundancy as a goal.

Q: How do you structure your investment team? (IC, decision making etc)

Over time it has evolved into my principal becoming the pilot, the CIO has become the co-pilot and the team has expanded into a more standard investment office. The skill sets are broader, and we have brought in asset class specialists.

Every CIO should want the principal to become the pilot where possible, obviously taking into consideration age, size of family members and other stakeholders. This is particularly true in early generations; this is done through education and succession planning.

For me, that is when I believe I have achieved something after ten years.

Q: What are your major pain points in managing the portfolio? (Including operations)

A: Everything that takes time and cost, every impediment to communication and managing the strategy.

Primarily, these are the increasing compliance of assets such as private markets and the lack of modular tools to solve for managing administration of more complex portfolios from a reporting perspective.

Q: How does the office use suppliers such as professional services, wealth managers and fund managers?

A: Your job as CIO is acutely about managing reputation. This means that external interactions need to be of the highest standard. A quick no is important. Personal relationships become intertwined with professional and this needs to be more thoughtful than a purely commercial relationship. We try to marry productivity with reputation.

The aim is to leave the family with the greatest partners for their investment journey, whether I'm there or not.

“Hall Road Investments Pty Ltd is a Corporate Authorised Representative (CAR No. 001279456) of Non Correlated Capital Pty Ltd (AFSL No. 499882). Shaun Parkin is an Authorised Representative (AR No 001279458) of Hall Road Investments Pty Ltd (CAR No. 001279456) and is authorised to provide general advice to wholesale investors”

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