When speaking with your family office clients, what are the most desirable jurisdictional qualities when either establishing or re-domiciling a family office?
“Generally families are aware that they have a choice of jurisdictions, with some feeling geographic proximity and a specific currency thinking matters, but typically, safety and security matters most, and this means a jurisdiction which feels safe, has a long history as a financial centre with undoubted legal integrity. We use Jersey a lot and regularly travel to the island for our clients and we, along with other advisers, impart this familiarity to clients which is also reassuring.”
What, in your opinion, are the key attractions of Jersey to a family office?
“I feel it’s the whole environment rather than specifics. Within Jersey, clients can find what they want – whether it’s an independently owned trust company easily able to deal with digital assets, Art, private equity investments, or a large company with scale and the investment management capabilities. Continuity of relationship and excellent service matter too and Jersey has a good reputation for both. Increasingly families are setting up new funds, becoming multi-family offices, or developing a wider investor base, and here Jersey’s fund capabilities are important with choice of structures and importantly, a real understanding of the world of sustainable finance.”
What is the most common issue raised by your family office clients in the current environment?
“Custody and capacity issues. Who holds the assets, who is responsible and has influence over them, and who will in the future. This has led to client discussions on creating family charters so roles and responsibilities are known and understood before incapacity and demise arises, and issues of reputation, family values, and business ethics can be enshrined. Additionally, re-setting charitable giving and family philanthropy is giving rise to fresh discussions. Clients are also looking at the unexpected losses on some of their investments and considering how best to tackle these. Security and privacy issues are a big concern with families conscious of system breaches and unintentional disclosures.”
“Technology is key for understanding a total wealth portfolio, protection and growth. Real-time valuations and risk-adjusted positions require the safest technology and families generally want to deal with people and businesses who can provide it. Families are increasing exposure to technology – in tech-enabled businesses and digital health care, with new investments in diagnostics and testing.
As litigators, we see costly mistakes being made and often it’s due to poor processes and inadequate or obsolete systems – the importance of an infrastructure which has smooth future-focused technology is always thrown out by these cases.”
Helping drive this change is the next generation. How are your family office clients managing this generational shift or change and why is good communication, transparency and strong governance so important?
“I have always been involved with family philanthropy and using philanthropy as an asset class, so for these families, there is nothing new in being responsible with wealth and using it for good purpose. Meanwhile, some of the older charities have suffered as less funds are directed to them, with some also failing due to poor governance with little or no reserves. Recognition of these failures has prompted younger family members to come to us to set up their own charities with proper risk frameworks and governance processes. Again, safety and security matters most.”