The COVID-19 pandemic has tested businesses in every sector. It has tested our teams, our processes, our ability to adapt and how we can keep our clients at the heart of all that we do. The unprecedented circumstances have also given us the opportunity to stress test, in a way like never before, the family office vehicle and how robust it is in times of uncertainty.
Making the complex simpleOur clients rely on us to run their family office in such a way that enables them to simplify their busy lives. Family office teams take the strain by providing a seamless service that offers diverse support to the whole family structure. From ensuring that assets are insured, investment portfolios are managed appropriately, family businesses are governed and overseen, budgets created, charitable giving is taken care of and that the concierge service, which is unique to the family office arrangement, looks after any other matters. This simplification of the complex is the foundation of a robust family office and as many clients have noted, this does not change at times of crisis. All of the planning and attention to meticulous detail, ensures that any extra requests or support that is needed, as a result of an unprecedented situation such as COVID-19, can be managed – because everything else is already taken care of.
Relationships, personal service and strength in diversityAs family office professionals we pride ourselves on our strong relationships, they are at the centre of everything we do. We have built these strong relationships with our clients, founded on many years of close working, resulting in our being their trusted advisers. We have solid relationships with intermediaries and other advisors of our families, which is vital to the running of a family office structure. We work closely with these parties to deliver the best expertise and effective and long-term solutions to our families.
This focus on people ensures we can offer the most personal of services, something that has become more valuable than ever to clients in recent months. Team composition is also important in creating the right dynamic and ensuring we can deliver a robust structure that has longevity. By having a team made up of, accountants and administration professionals, the family office can offer families a varied skill set and enabling the delivery of the very best administration and support.
Comprehensive, proactive, innovative and pragmaticOne of the biggest tests we have faced is that of robustness. Are the processes, the structures and the services we have put in place during the normal course of business, robust and comprehensive enough to ensure we can step up our support and services if needed?
Proactivity is a huge factor in shaping the robustness of the family office – by ensuring investment ideas, structuring developments and day to day management of affairs and finances are streamlined and ahead of time. We are always looking to implement solutions that are more effective and more efficient, which means we are never behind the curve should regulations change or as we see today, a crisis hit.
Speed of response and flexibility are also key – we need to be highly responsive and now more than ever. We are accustomed to acting quickly and in times of crisis that does not change. Remote working has not negatively impacted on our ability to deliver in the smallest of time frames.
So, what has changed and how has the family office structure responded?We are accustomed to speaking to clients regularly all over the globe, so working predominately through telephone or video call is not new. We are embracing telecoms based technology and other technologies more than ever. We have had to adapt quickly to working remotely, drawing on our excellent communication skills and IT solutions, and evolving and adapting to the needs of our clients successfully in these unprecedented times. A robust family office also has innovative technology available to it, something which can really be relied on in times of crisis.
This particular crisis has not generated excessive changes in the requests of clients, although in a different crisis, this might not be the case. They know they can call on their family office to deliver the same high standards of service, no matter what is happening in the global economy. Today, when the world is full of uncertainty, clients can see the value of the sophisticated family office more than ever. The stability, the discipline, the continuity.
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