Tips for setting up family office

Those wanting to establish a family office are urged to determine first whether they have enough cash to invest and it would be staffed with professionals.

“Talk to your family, do you have the sums to invest? Do you really need outside expertise? Are you comfortable with having professionals go through all of your assets whether they are underground or not?,” said Dr. Queena Lee-Chua, professor at the Ateneo de Manila University and is with the board of directors at the Ateneo Family Business Development Center.

Citing a report on the Asian family office, Lee-Chua said they have to determine first the requirements for setting up, including its vision and expectations, services it would provide, and what portion of the family’s wealth is to be managed by the family office.

She said a detailed business plan outlines the most suitable location, the services to be provided, the infrastructure needed, the capital requirements, operating costs, measurable benchmarks, and financing.

Lee-Chua added setting up and implementing a family office involves recruiting qualified people; establishing an advisory or investment committee, state-of-the-art technology, key functions and organizational oversight, and key procedures; and performing audits in sensitive areas.

To start family office operations, she said they have to measure results against benchmarks and review all regulatory areas, including family mission statements, business plan, advisory or investment committees, infrastructure, and technology.

Lee-Chua said those considering to set up a family office should approach at least five different family offices and “make sure you have elder people who are there listening in the background and they will tell you if they feel they instinctively trust or not (in it).”

She said engaging a multi-family office removes recruiting efforts, may save time and costs, can deliver economies of scale, and lower levels of personal involvement.

Operating a single family office, on the other hand, entails direct selection of staff, privacy and confidentiality, direct influence on team and strategy, and complete alignment with and focus on requirements of the family, she added.

Citing the Bank of Singapore, Lee-Chua said setting up a family office is a structured approach to manage family wealth, discussion on succession and inheritance, and risk management.

She earlier said smaller family offices have arisen to cater to families that have $1 million.

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