Leaders in the management, protection and administration of family wealth.
We have provided family business services to wealthy families for over 40 years. We are experts in this field and have in some cases worked with several generations of the same family, ensuring their financial expectations are achieved as the family wealth is handed down. This vast experience gathered over many decades forms the perfect foundation for our family office services, which are managed by our specialist teams who work closely with clients and both their internal and external family advisers.
What is a family office?
There is no single definition of a family office. It is a bespoke offering, tailored to each individual family. As the circumstances, needs and expectations of every family are unique, so every family office must also be unique. At Hawksford we liken the role of the family office to that of a conductor, with the family and its advisers comprising each section of the orchestra. The primary duties of the conductor are to agree objectives, select members of the orchestra, set the tempo, oversee each contribution and listen critically to ensure that the final sound of the ensemble is attuned to the family's objectives.
The role of the family office is to unify and consolidate the often complex and varied affairs of the family. Some banks and investment houses offer what they call a family office, primarily covering financial services for wealthy families. However, we mean something much wider here - not just limited to investments but encompassing every aspect of a family's affairs, from concierge services, private jet and yacht brokerage to trans-jurisdictional, multi-generational wealth management. Our family office is not intended to be an add-on service but one which sits at the very heart of the family and offers a central point of contact, bringing together and overseeing all of the other strands.
What are the benefits?
We have found from experience that the benefits of a family office can be significant and varied. As an introduction, they can include:
A family office can provide a coherent overview of a family's affairs, and can allow for a holistic approach that highlights gaps, inefficiencies and opportunities. It can facilitate an informed, proactive approach to wealth management, which is essential for clients with complex affairs.
A practical example of this can be seen in terms of reporting. Rather than receiving a myriad of reports and updates from different service providers, a family office can collate, review and distil the salient points into one single report, bringing together the important information from each area. The significance of having a single document showing the total family wealth, how it is invested, and how it is performing, should not be underestimated.
Another significant part of the role of a family office is to put together an effective team - to select the most appropriate professional advisers for each project, and then to orchestrate each section effectively. As an adjunct, a family office can allow for the coordination of professional fees, allowing families to easily understand the total amount they are spending and to monitor and compare the fees being charged for different services.
A key aspect of a family office is its private nature. The family office looks after the affairs of a single family. Depending on the needs of the family, and cost requirements, we can offer anything from a dedicated, hand picked team to setting up a completely independent legal entity, run from a separate office.
Being able to cope with change is not only an advantage, but essential. A family office is designed to be able to evolve and flow with the family. It is designed to fit around the existing investments of the family and to be flexible enough to accommodate the inevitable changes and developments. A family office can work with the family business and assist in coordinating all of the investments and interests that make up a family's wealth.
We often find that a desire for secure and certain estate planning and asset protection is a key factor driving the establishment of a family office. A family office can be used to ensure the preservation of family wealth for future generations. We have found that a family office can be a useful tool for enabling more senior members of the family to work with their trustees and advisers to introduce younger generations to the business and affairs of the family, gradually informing and equipping them to take on a suitable role when the time is right. We recognise that the future of a family's wealth depends on the family members - and that the level of involvement of each member, and the interaction between them, must be carefully managed.
In our experience, family offices are generally established for reasons of family governance rather than tax planning - and while tax mitigation may well be one of the reasons for setting up a family office structure, it is not always the primary aim. We do not give tax advice, but we do have many years' experience of working with international tax advisers to ensure that structures are administered in such a way as not to compromise their tax efficacy.
Who should set up a family office?
We find that the family office appeals to families whose wealth and affairs are sufficiently complex that they would benefit from a tailored, private, bespoke service. A family office can be particularly suitable for families whose wealth spans different jurisdictions, encompasses varied interests, and is held within a range of structures.
What will it look like?
At the simplest end of the scale a family office can be a loose collection of a family's trusted advisers - lawyers, accountants, investment managers, stock brokers - who come together to provide an active focal point of management for the family's affairs. At the other end of the scale, it can be a specially formed legal structure designed and put in place to formally co-ordinate the family's affairs. The type of structure will depend on the level and complexity of the family wealth. In many cases a Private Trust Company will be formed to act as trustee and sit above the structures which hold and protect the family's wealth.
Why choose us?
We have extensive experience of setting up and running successful family offices for a wide range of clients. In some cases we have been looking after the same family's wealth for three generations, and we consider stability and continuity to be a key feature of our offering.
We have detailed knowledge and practical experience of forming and administering complex structures and can work with a family's own advisers to agree and create an appropriate family office. We can also use our knowledge and skills to coordinate, oversee and, where appropriate, provide and maintain the various entities and interests which hold and make up a family's wealth.
We see clarity and transparency of fees to be an important feature of a family office and will negotiate with each family to agree a bespoke fee agreement.
We are able to use our knowledge and experience to lead from the front, establishing effective structures and solutions that remain in tune with the family's objectives and ensure that all members (settlors, beneficiaries and advisers) are working together in harmony to protect and enhance the family wealth.
Email [email protected] or contact any key contact directly to find out how we can help you.