Family Office

Annual Study Identifies Top Challenges For Single Family Offices

Harriet Davies, Editor - Family Wealth Report, 18 October 2012


The top challenges for single-family offices in the current environment are regulatory rules, investment performance and security issues, the fifth Annual SFO Study from The Family Wealth Alliance revealed.

The study, unveiled at an ongoing conference in Chicago, found legal fees are imposing a heavy burden on family offices. “Legal fees or other expenses affected 38.2 per cent of participating SFOs. Reported costs range from $300 to $450,000, and average $64,000,” said Bob Casey, head of research at The Alliance.      

In other key findings, 32.4 per cent of offices said that new regulations requiring family offices to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission – as part of the Dodd Frank Act – had impacted them.

The survey also revealed a high prevalence of internet security threats to wealthy families, with around 20 per cent saying that a family member had been a victim of identity theft via the internet at some point. Meanwhile, just over 10 per cent of families said a member had been a victim of burglary or robbery. Perhaps justifiably given this high prevalence, 12.1 per cent of family offices in the study employ a security consultant.

On the investment side, around two-thirds of offices say they have sufficient expertise to analyse investment vehicles and strategies, while 35.3 per cent say they outsource the chief investment officer function. This last figure has risen from 31.8 per cent last year.

There were signs that family offices are paying closer attention to their investment policies, as the proportion which had reviewed them over the year rose from 39.5 per cent last year to 51.5 per cent this year; 27.3 per cent had actually changed their investment policy during the year.


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