About the report

Virtuous Circles: Sustainable Family Governance Models in an Evolving Environment is essential reading for families and advisors who are seeking to know what current sentiment is in this space, and what industry luminaries see as emerging best practices.

It unites the findings of a global survey of practitioners and the views of a panel of experts drawn from leading firms, but perhaps most interestingly of all, the paper features a wealth of real-world examples illustrating what forward-thinking families are doing right now to create lasting legacies.

Among all the threats to wealth succession families face - politics, economics and pandemics included - a lack of communication and sharing is the biggest.

Warren Thompson
Managing Director and Head, Coutts Family Office and UHNW

Wealth practitioners from the UK, Europe, North America, MENA, and Asia Pacific contributed survey data for this study. Some key findings from their survey responses included:


believe that enterprising families should have a formal governance programme in place by the time they have £50m in assets


think that philanthropy and impact investing objectives will become increasingly intertwined

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Families are starting to look at things much more holistically. It’s not a barbell approach with investment strategy and philanthropy at either end, but rather them ensuring they are aligned across everything they do, including setting up their family office with an ESG lens.

Catherine Grumm
Partner, Head of Family Office Services, BDO
According to survey responses, the most vital parts of a family governance programme are the:

Succession plan

Internal communications policy

Family council

I’m aware of one family with strong Mediterranean connections who have a circular business that pays local fisherman to fish plastic out of the sea.

That is generating real revenues which are being put back into communities to train fisherman to make a living in different ways. It’s tackling the overfishing and plastic problems simultaneously.

Dr. Emiko Caerlewy-Smith
Founder and CEO, KIT Consulting

Editorial Panel

Catherine Grum Partner, Head of Family Office Services, BDO

Catherine is a partner at accountancy and business advisory firm BDO, and leads the firm’s Family Office Services group. Her practice focuses on family offices and enterprising families. She advises families and individuals throughout the process of transitioning wealth and across the family office lifecycle from entrepreneurs to established family offices and the next generation. Her specialisms include family governance, family office creation and philanthropy.

Dr. Emiko Caerlewy-Smith Founder and CEO, KIT Consulting

Emiko is Founder and CEO of KIT Consulting, a Jersey-based management consultancy specialising in sustainable finance. KIT helps a global client base to build sustainable businesses, products and services; practice corporate social responsibility; and, leverage the competitive advantage of ESG integration. Emiko is also lead capital markets advisor to HRH The Prince of Wales’ Accounting for Sustainability Project (A4S), working across global capital markets to integrate ESG.

Richard Joynt Director and Head of Family Office, Highvern

As well as having expertise in financial accounting and strategic financial planning, Richard has devoted the last 20 years of his career to the family office sector. At Highvern, he is responsible for managing some of the more complex client relationships, often with innovative structures. He previously served as the Director of a prominent single-family office and led the multi-family office division of an international fiduciary services firm, dealing with UHNW individuals and their families from jurisdictions including Europe, the US, the UAE and Russia.

Rupert Phelps Partner – Family Wealth Group, Smith & Williamson

Rupert is the Partner leading Smith & Williamson’s Family Wealth Group and gives strategic advice on family governance, family constitutions and councils, succession planning, setting up single-family offices, philanthropy and next-generation preparation. He has worked with business-owning families and SFOs all his career and has served on the board of the SFO of an international family.

Warren Thompson Managing Director and Head, Coutts Family Office and UHNW

Warren joined Coutts from Lloyds Private Banking in 2003 and has built over 20 years of experience in the wealth management industry. Specialising in Ultra High Net Worth families, he joined the Coutts Private Office in 2006, subsequently taking over leadership of the business in 2015. In December 2020 his role expanded to drive strategic and propositional developments for both UK based and international UHNW families across Coutts and the NatWest Wealth division. The first stage of this strategy commenced in January 2021 with a re-launch of the business as Coutts Family Office.