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EXCLUSIVE: Europe's Single Family Offices: How Assets Compare

Alastair Graham, 15 October 2019

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This article shows the actual size of Europe's single family offices and see how they stack up in total AuM against the region's leading pension funds.

It is no surprise that the world’s family office industry is getting so much attention from banks, service providers and other organisations, because collectively they wield a great deal of financial firepower. This publication has been working with data analysed by Highworth which explores trends in the single family offices space (see here to register for a trial). This latest analysis from Highworth’s founder and managing director, Alastair Graham, examines how large family offices are compared with the big blocks of institutional money, run by pension funds. This article, which focuses on Europe, concludes that single family offices in Europe collectively hold €1.52 trillion ($1.68 trillion) of assets, which equates to 20 per cent of the AuM held by the region’s largest pension funds. (Please send feedback to tom.burroughes@wealthbriefing.com)

In September IPE, a specialist pensions journal, published a ranking of the largest European pension funds by assets managed, the IPE 1,000. IPE calculated that in 2018-19 the assets managed by the top 1,000 European pension funds grew by 7 per cent to €7.72 trillion. The IPE calculation is in the same ballpark as the assessment of EFAMA, the European Fund & Asset Management Association, which calculated that in 2018 assets under management by European institutional investors was €25 trillion, of which pension funds comprised 28 per cent or €7 trillion. 

For IPE to compile a European pension fund assets ranking was painstaking and useful, but public sources are readily available. The journal said: “There is a wide number of sources of data for European pension funds …with associations, the OECD, and others.”

Identifying AuM of single family offices
The same cannot be said of another significant group of European capital managers, single family offices, because there is no requirement for SFOs to file reports of their assets under management. Moreover, many single family offices fly under the radar and few sources exist which systematically identify and profile single family offices, let alone report on their assets under management. 

Yet one source does exist, and its assessment of the aggregate AuM of 1,000 single family offices in Europe shows that although SFOs cannot match pension funds for total AuM, nonetheless they are a significant force in the European market for the management of capital.

Highworth-Wealthbriefing SFO Database
The Single Family Offices in EMEA database – stripping out the Middle East segment – shows that the European countries within the database hold profiles of 545 single family offices and this number will rise to 1,000 in the coming months as Highworth adds further SFO profiles to the database.

In addition to much of the other information on each SFO, the database includes a carefully considered assessment of the probable value range of AuM for each SFO, based on as full a body of professionally sourced evidence as is available. A small minority of SFOs either directly disclose their assets under management or provide sufficient evidence to allow Highworth to calculate it to within a few tens of millions. For the majority, however, Highworth has placed each SFO’s assets under management into one of 10 ranges. 

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