How does a multi-family office function?
Any family office, whether single or multi-family, should at a minimum provide a family with access to the following services:
- Finances and cash management
Attending to the financial needs of a family is a basic requirement. Without cash, and its management, a family may be left destitute. Over-spending may ruin the wealth of a family in one generation. The expectations of individual members of a family need to be prudently managed in alignment with the extent of wealth. Educating upcoming generations on cash management and budgeting may also be required.
A family office must be able to assist a family to deal with all legal matters the family as a whole, or individual family members, may need. While a family office may not have all the required expertise in house, it must have access to a network of legal service providers in multiple jurisdictions who can be called upon to provide services as and when needed.
- Investment services and entrepreneurial endeavours
Attending to the investment of a family is core to what family offices do. If investments are not grown consistently, the family’s demise is likely. A family office provides oversight of investments and puts in place appropriate structures that facilitate growth.
- Fiduciary assistance (trust, company and foundation management).
Key to the longevity of any wealth is the quality with which its assets are governed and managed. A succession plan is vital for safeguarding and maintaining family wealth. The resultant structure usually involves trusts, companies and foundations. Keeping legal structures intact and well managed ensures the integrity of the plan. Should unforeseen circumstance give rise to the structure being questioned or tested, its integrity will be the determinant between success and failure.
- Family and Corporate governance
The governance structure of a family, in basic terms, comprises the communication and voting systems that ensure the flow of information and facilitate balanced decision making. All systems within family governance must dove-tail with each other, and information must flow freely from one sphere to another.
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