The question is, what offering will this person be head of? Wealth managers are looking at the family office space in different ways. In my experience, there is a need to make the Family Office Services (FOS) a standalone offering.
Some strategies that I have seen work:
Make it a comprehensive service offering - FOS models emphasize a total service approach, integrating technical and operational infrastructure, partnering with technology for unique services and providing “total office” services beyond just investments.
Provide a virtual and versatile Structure - the model supports a "virtual family office" setup, allowing advisers to act as more of a client guide and advocate across services such as OCIO and OCFO.
Demand is for the ability to leverage the inhouse speciality of the asset consultant or wealth managers, make it available to offices that would normally have several counterparties to assist and then become their number one counterparty.
Client advocacy as a service - Firms operating under the FOS model can act as a guide across various services, ensuring that all strategies are delivered through a unified brand, advocating for the client's best interests across multiple service dimensions.
Focused Expertise- Unlike broader service providers, an FOS model focuses on a select set of core competencies, ensuring deep expertise over a wide array of services, and the ability to manage the client’s supplier list under the FOS brand. A specific offering would concentrate on a small number of specific issues for the investment office, leveraging those skills that are clear and easily implementable.
Dedicated Resources and Branding - Successful FOS models feature dedicated resources, including marketing budgets and relationship managers, creating a distinct branding that resonates with the family office cohort and leverages wealth relationships across the industry.
Make it Intergenerational - We are seeing a state of flux as the new generations are taking control or affecting the way the investment office is managed. For some providers, this is a benefit as they move away from the previous generations’ advisers. For more traditional offerings or legacy relationships, this should be a cause for concern as family members seek out their own counterparties.
One major benefit of establishing a stand-alone FOS is the ability to house strategies that can be tailored for this client type. Current examples we have seen:
• Board management – quarterly meetings, specific calls to action
• Risk and Resilience services - reviews and analytics
• Special projects – education, specific structural due diligence, adhoc project work
• Platform(s) – intermediate and manage the investment platform to be used by FO and UHNW clients.
• Investment Governance – investment policy and strategy, implementation, and monitoring of portfolios.
• Accounting Book of Record integration to the investment office
• IT and other “plug in” infrastructure.
The Head of FOS:
A head of FOS would be similar in job description to an independent adviser. One that acts as a conduit between internal teams and the client.
I have seen successful launches of FOS utilizing one staff member with specific experience in the SFO space (usually worked within one). Connectivity and bona fides are the hardest aspect of uncovering opportunities within this cohort and worth hiring for.
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