Family offices are private organizations that assume the daily administration and management of a wealthy family’s personal and financial affairs. Historically, these repositories of great wealth were shrouded in secrecy, their activities conducted behind closed doors. Recently, family offices have acquired a considerably higher public profile: they represent a mere 7 percent of the world’s ultra-high-net-worth population—yet control a staggering 50 percent of the wealth. As only a select few families now hold a disproportionate amount of global wealth, there are significant social implications to how such assets are managed and used.
This book provides an insider’s view for anyone looking to understand family offices and how to best serve and advise them. The veteran practitioners William I. Woodson and Edward V. Marshall offer a thorough guide to family offices: why wealthy families create them, what they do, and how to manage them effectively. They present these insights through a series of problem-based learning cases that follow a single family’s journey from the time of a significant liquidity event; through the creation, staffing, and management of their family office; and on to its succession. Each case study is supported by detailed background reference material. The cases and background materials are drawn from the authors’ practical knowledge, network of industry experts, and experience advising family offices large and small. They shed light on the unique issues that ultrawealthy families face and the solutions they adopt to address them throughout the life cycle of a family office. This book is the definitive resource for practitioners and students, as well as family principals, advisers, service providers, and all others who engage with the world of family offices.