Family Office

Younger UHNW Investors Keener On Startups, Direct Investing – Preqin

Tom Burroughes Group Editor 14 April 2022

Younger UHNW Investors Keener On Startups, Direct Investing – Preqin

The research firm cast its eyes over the family office sector and the attitudes these organizations have about investing.

The new generation of ultra-high net worth individuals are far more likely to invest in startups and to invest directly than family offices have traditionally done, according to a commentary from alternative investment research firm Preqin.

The organization found that 56 per cent of the family offices it had spoken to said they would be making direct investments in private equity in the future, compared with 51 per cent that were targeting venture capital, and 63 per cent  real estate, with pooled single manager funds being the preferred structure. 

Such figures underscore how ultra-wealthy families, mindful that they are holders of “patient capital” with a less urgent need for liquidity than some other investors, are a natural fit for sectors such as venture capital. VC funds typically have a maturity of around 10 years or more. To justify that relatively low liquidity, they promise superior returns to those in public markets – a compelling proposition at a time of ultra-low interest rates. A number of other studies, such as this one from US-based Silicon Valley Bank, have noted the trend.

The Preqin report cited figures suggesting that in 2018 family offices held between $3 and $4 trillion in wealth, and that number could be far larger because some family offices keep a low profile and don’t appear in databases. One study has pegged the number of UHNW families at 18,000 worldwide, each holding $250 million or more. Preqin’s own data shows that North America, where the likes of John D Rockefeller and JP Morgan originated the concept, is home to 35 per cent of family offices, slightly fewer than Europe (38 per cent).

Among other findings, Preqin found that most family offices saw the US and western Europe (excluding the UK) as presenting the best opportunities over the next 12 months, across asset classes. The US was particularly attractive for venture capital (selected by 88 per cent of respondents) and western Europe for private equity (59 per cent). Most family offices that responded to Preqin’s survey are based in North America and Europe, which may have skewed the preferences in favor of these markets.

The top ten family offices by (known) AuM globally are split evenly between the two regions, according to Preqin data. By number of office headquarters, the US alone accounts for 32 per cent of family offices worldwide, with 708 offices. After the US, 13 per cent of family offices globally are based in the DACH region (Austria, Germany, and Switzerland).

Europe’s largest economy, Germany, has 163 family offices, accounting for 7.3 per cent of the global total, making it the second-most popular country. It is followed by Switzerland, which hosts 148 family offices (6.6 per cent), including the largest multi-family office, Zurich-based UBS Global Family Office, with AuM of $226 billion.

(This news service is exclusive media partner with Highworth Research, a UK-based organization tracking the sector and following the business of single family offices.)

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