Keeping it in the Family
Family offices can be a strategic tool to create a successful legacy, writes Ryan Andrews
n economic slowdown in Asia continues to affect wealth creation, but it has not stopped the growth of family offices, as unsatisfied demands and unresolved family succession issues remain. The term “family office” is generally used in industry circles to mean an arrangement in which the office handles basically anything for a wealthy family, from financial and administrative affairs to philanthropic efforts and governance. At their core, they are confidential private offices for families that have significant wealth. Around US$200 million is usually considered the minimum sum to open a family office because of the scale needed to maintain an effective strategic asset allocation.
“Utilising family offices, or entrusting one’s family wealth and affairs to professionals, is increasingly popular in Asia Pacific,” says Anton Wong, head of the Key Clients Group for Asia Pacific at BNP Paribas Wealth Management. “This is a natural trend, as more of the region’s first-generation entrepreneurs are ageing and passing on the baton to the young, thus requiring more professional help to maintain, preserve and govern.”
Enrico Mattoli, head of the Global Family Office for Greater China at UBS Wealth Management, echoes Wong’s sentiments. “A family office is a strategic tool to create a successful family legacy,” says Mattoli. “It facilitates the transfer of intergenerational wealth management.” He explains that Asia is starting to see these first- and second-generation transfers of wealth in Hong Kong and Singapore. “It’s very exciting—it’s the place to be.”
Family offices have a long history in Europe, where they first emerged after the Middle Ages before spreading to America following the Industrial Revolution. “Now, in Asia, as second- and third-generation individuals have returned