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UBS launches how-to guide for family offices

By Daniel Bardsley

A guide to setting up a family office has been launched amid warnings that families must maintain unity or risk losing their wealth.

UBS's Family Office Compass is described as a strategic toolkit to help ultra-high net worth families deal with generational change.

The 150-page guide takes families through the process of setting up a family office, including steps such as deciding what the family office should do and where it should be based, hiring staff, selecting what to outsource and clarifying the family's role.

UBS has developed the compass in partnership with the Cambridge Institute for Family Enterprise at Harvard Business School. John Davis, the institute's founder and chairman, said it was key for families to “maintain unity in decision making”.

“Failure to do so can slow the family down, and in prolonged cases signal the end of a family's wealth,” Davis said.

“The strategic role of the family office should therefore not be underestimated.”

Despite this, UBS has calculated, using data from Campden Research's Global Family Office Report, that a significant proportion of billionaire families do not have a family office.

Campden Research estimated there are 740 family offices owned by individuals with $1 billion or more in investable assets, while last year's UBS/PwC Billionaires Report calculated there are 1,397 billionaires in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific. Based on regional numbers of billionaires, UBS estimated just 34% of billionaires in Asia Pacific have a family office, compared to 50% in North America and 65% in Europe.

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