Trust Estate

Advisors Must Practise What They Preach To Clients On Succession

Tom Burroughes Group Editor London 17 June 2024

Advisors Must Practise What They Preach To Clients On Succession

We talk to the CEO of Crestbridge Family Office Services about succession planning within the industry itself, and how firms must apply the same care to their own organisation as they would expect from their clients.

Wealth advisors like to talk a great deal about business transfer, succession and planning, but they will be listened to more closely if they “walk the walk” as well as "talk the talk.”

Firms must be as adept at handling their own business succession as they expect from clients to be, Heather Tibbo, chief executive at Crestbridge Family Office Services, told WealthBriefing recently. 

In July last year, US-based Gen II Fund Services bought Crestbridge’s institutional businesses for an undisclosed sum. After the deal Crestbridge Family Office Services continued as an independent business, while its sister organisation adopted the Gen II moniker. That deal was another example of the kind of M&A activity that’s taking place not just in wealth management but in the trusts, fiduciary services and administration sectors. The transaction was wrapped up in April. 

When transactions of any sort take place, it is important to put clients’ minds at ease – a point sometimes lost in the drama of deal-making.

“It is important to reassure clients that they’re being looked after,” Tibbo said.

The transition of the business following the transaction has worked out well. “It could not have worked out better,” Tibbo said. “We are all about client service delivery and taking ownership.”

The change is taking place against a background of geopolitical upheaval, and developments such as the UK’s decision to phase out its centuries-old resident non-domicile system. “Potential non-dom rule changes are a big issue for many businesses causing many queries from people asking what to do,” Tibbo, who is based in Jersey, said. “People need reassurance that their affairs will continue to be managed efficiently.”

The organisation has formed alliances – its joint venture with Willow Street, for instance – a trust and fiduciary services business in Jackson, Wyoming. This gives the business options when it comes to clients with exposure to the US. And the US has generated plenty of new work with the increased focus on substance, Tibbo said. 

Supporting family offices is an important part of what this organisation – as its name implies – does, Tibbo commented, at a time when the world of family offices appears to be expanding, and gaining more media and business exposure, reflected in a raft of studies, surveys and reports. (See examples here and here.) Estimates vary. EY has claimed that there are as many as 10,000; other sources suggest a figure closer to 7,000. 

Tibbo reflected on how the very term “family office” has to be handled carefully. “The term can sometimes be a bit nuanced and used without an understanding of what it really means. At the heart of it is that people want to be looked after in a bespoke way,” she said. 

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