What do family offices in London, New York and Manama (Bahrain) have in common? As our family ties section shows while they have different pieces of advice to offer, they all cite the regulatory environment and consequent tax implications as their biggest challenge over the next 12 months. (Click here to read the article)
Regulation has become the hot topic at the start of this decade and a serious concern to family offices the world over. As we report, the US House of Representatives and the Senate are both working on drafts that could, if they do pass into law, have huge ramifications for single family offices in particular. (Click here to read our analysis)
One of the key drivers behind establishing and retaining a single family office is the privacy it affords the family. However, such a privilege would almost certainly be a thing of the past if the proposed reporting criteria contained in the House's proposals – including information on the education, business and disciplinary history, as well as services, fees and investment strategies – are forced onto family offices.
Consequently, we ask the question whether now is the time for family offices to cast aside a long-held aversion to being in the public spotlight and begin to actively lobby for a retention of the status quo. (Click here to read the article) While there will undoubtedly be unease in many families to being in the limelight, it is arguable that some short-term pain would be worthwhile for the potential gains in the long term. If the recent financial crisis taught us one thing, it is that a focus on the long term is of paramount importance.
Governments the world over have had so-called tax havens in their sights for a while now, but particularly since the April 2009 G20 London Summit when all of the countries present committed to the OECD standards on tax transparency. Of the more than 40 tax havens examined, all but six now have one or more agreements that meet the standards. The results of the OECD's latest missive can be found in full if you click here.
Another hot topic is the consolidation currently being seen within the family office world. One of the biggest acquisitions of the last six months saw Threshold and Ashbridge come together and I am grateful to Ed Lazar, Threshold's president, and Charlie Grace Jr, chairman of Ashbridge, for taking the time to share their thoughts on how to make an acquisition work (Click here to read the articles). We further examine whether a wave of consolidation is now likely, to read our analysis click here.
On the investment front, we have covered a wide range of asset classes for this issue. Starting with private equity, one of the most prevalent in the family office portfolio, we also investigate emerging markets, cleantech, agricultural land and life settlements, which very few family offices seem to have yet discovered.
The private equity industry has, after a prolonged period of excess, been something of a barren wasteland in the past 18 months. Yet family offices seem to have stuck by it, especially if they have direct control, and with industry experts confident that lessons have been learned on the sell side, the buy side can look forward to more fruitful times over the next 12 months.
This issue also features a look into wealth management strategies, the latest thoughts on philanthropy and family office news. In addition, there is a summary of the North American Family Office Survey, plus a roundtable discussion held at Campden's European Family Office Conference.
Finally, if you are a regular reader and haven't yet got in contact with us, then I would encourage you to do so, by whatever means. It is always a pleasure to speak to family offices and get your thoughts on what we do. Enjoy the issue.