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FAMILY OFFICE – WHAT IS IT?

 
02-21-2014  |  By: Jeremy D. Stahl. CPA |  (0) Post comment »  |  Read comments »
 

In this and subsequent blogs I will  initially  address the concept of the ” Family Office” an often heard but not always fully understood concept in the high net worth community.

 

Traditionally and historically the family office was organized to manage and administer the affairs and fortunes of a single wealthy family.  The focus was on managing and coordinating  investments, trusts, legal affairs, accounting, taxes, insurance, real estate,  foundations, philanthropic endeavors, wealth transfer to future generations and much more.

 

Typically the complexity of such activities required the hiring of extensive professional and support staff and even legally  organizing in the form of an LLC or corporation.  Clearly such  level of activity required an operating budget at least in excess of half million to a million dollars and  certain minimum levels of family wealth (ca. $50mm- $100mm) or  several million in revenues to make such an undertaking feasible.

 

While there are many families operating their own family office with assets/revenues in this  size range or indeed much larger there are those that have found that consolidating activities of several families into one office can produce many synergies.  Such arrangements are referred to as “multi-family offices”  consisting of up to a dozen families often organized by the families themselves.  Alternatively, “ multi-family offices” have come together as result of one or two smaller families employing the  services of  professional services providers such as larger accounting firms, asset managers or business management firms.

 

Indeed it is actually the more traditional business management firms (those that have historically  simultaneously serviced  numerous large entertainment clients on the east and west coast)  that have the experience,  pre-existing infrastructure and the multitude of professionals (CPA’s trust, investment, etc)  to attend to the service requirements of wealthy families who are considering a family office structure but who do not want to go it alone.  A family  may not want to go it alone because the matriarch or patriarch of the family may not have the knowledge, business experience, energy or confidence to assimilate the pieces for an effective office or co-equal members of a family can simply just not agree which path to take.

 

This is where the existing “multi-family” office could certainly assist. I look forward to your comments and please check back for subsequent Family Office related blogs.