Joint Venture Serving International Families Takes Shape

Tom Burroughes Group Editor London 8 May 2018

Joint Venture Serving International Families Takes Shape

US- and UK-based firms linked together and forming a JV spoke to this publication about the expanding market for families with a range of interests in different countries.

It may be a truism that in a globalised world where families’ wealth and business affairs cut across borders, advisory services must be international. And that seems to be the driving logic behind a new joint venture involving accountancy firms on both sides of the Atlantic.

The JV is PKF Funds and Family Office, supported by PKF O’Connor Davies (New York), PKF Littlejohn (London), PKF O’Connor, Leddy & Holmes (Republic of Ireland) and Johnston Carmichael (Scotland). All four are independent accountancy firms and part of the PKF International network of accountancy businesses.

These firms provide many of the services – apart from directly managing investments – that family offices and high net worth individuals need to manage but often find too costly or difficult to handle directly. Recently, PKF Funds and Family Office appointed Paul Pratt from Trusted Family as its commercial director to help launch the offer in the UK and Ireland.

Pratt has spent the last three years working with Trusted Family, a technology company working with over 100 of the world’s leading family offices, and previously ran a deal flow platform that connected family offices together for co-investment opportunities.

“There is the globalisation of the reach of families which is now very apparent; we need to be able to serve families where their constituent members happen to be,” Marc Rinaldi, who established PKF Funds and Family Office in New York, told this news service in a recent interview. “Given the scale of cross-border transactions, the potential for UK business might not be quite as big as the US but it is at least 50 per cent as large,” Rinaldi said.

A major form of demand at the moment is the ability to draw together all the investment, financial and business issues of a family into a single set of reports (to help them gain visibility of their cash flow and tax position and projections), he continued. The firm can also help family offices/others handle some of the tiresome HR issues that come up with replacing staff, sourcing new ones, etc. “Staffing is a burden and it’s very expensive,” he said.

In the case of PKF Littlejohn, it is headquartered in London’s Canary Wharf and employs around 300 people. “At this stage, our focus for PKF Funds and Family Office is on launching in London, Edinburgh and Dublin. Our future expansion plans (in Europe and potentially beyond – for example in Asia) will be developed over time,” a spokesperson for the London business said on the call.

Inevitably, this publication had to bring up the “B-word” – Brexit. Will the UK’s departure from the European Union affect PKF Funds and Family Office’s business in any specific way? “Brexit doesn’t change the fact that funds and family offices need administration services and trusted advice. We also recognise that our clients are less constrained by geographic boundaries than ever before – this is now very much a global market,” the firm said.

PKF Funds and Family Office, the spokesperson said, prides itself on high-calibre staff, with most of them having worked in investment banking and fund management, while another part of its value proposition is a technology platform to drive its administration service, such as giving clients tailored reports.

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