• David Grammig

Bringing together SFOs for years - Interview with Prestel & Partner co-founder Tobias Prestel

Updated: Jun 5, 2019

Tobias Prestel is co-founder and managing director of Prestel & Partner, the global leader in Family Office Forums. His business partner Katja Muelheim and himself run these events now for an incredible timespan of 9 years, building a global community of wealth owners, investors and Family Offices on the way.

Tobias, thank you for speaking to us today. Let us dive right into it. What was the motivation to found Prestel & Partner?

There was and still is a huge gap between what Single Family Offices and Principals (the wealth-owners) want, and what many conference organisers give them. Wealth-owners want to meet peers, and only a selected few experts and solution providers with whom they can exchange views and learn from. But sadly, what most conference organisers give them, is a room full of salespeople, intermediaries, lawyers, middlemen, deal commission hunters, people who want a piece from the cake. Wealth-owners find themselves "in a room full of barbers trying to sell them a haircut". Not a nice place where you want to be as wealth-owner. So, we gave and give them exactly what they want: More investors than providers and not a sales environment, but a safe place for peers to exchange, experiences, views, opinions, and opportunities. We don’t accept commissions; we are committed to be neutral and editorially independent.

Single Family Offices are naturally shy creatures. How did you motivate them to attend your events in the early days of your conference series?

Trust is the keyword. We started in Germany where you get trust in advance as a reputed fellow German (but beware to fail, they never forget!). From that flying start onwards, it all happened through referrals and recommendations: Imagine one Billionaire telling another "you should go there, it's a safe place, you will not be used as a bait for sponsors, you enjoy privacy, as they never share delegate lists, and you will meet a big bunch of great people such as yourself, including royals, heads of states, Nobel Laureates, etc"...

The number of family offices worldwide grows and so does the number of family office events. What do you have to do to remain relevant for families as well as sponsors?

A great group of people in a room, with a mix of known faces, and "fresh blood", will never get boring. Saying this, having agendas with topics that touch current issues is very important of course. All this, frankly, is aimed at the wealth-owners and Family Offices. We do not create these events for the sponsors’ needs, but for the buy-side requests. Our sponsors are happy with the result: A room full of potential clients, 100+ wealth-owners and Family offices present per event, true buy-side.

Prestel & Partner does not reveal guest lists to ensure the maximum privacy of its FO delegates. Does it not make it harder to attract sponsors?

Indeed, data becomes crucial for modern marketing. However, if you want to meet billionaires and Single Family Offices, the kind of people who normally don't go to events or accessible social happenings, you must accept their need for privacy. Our sponsors don't seem to do bad with us - we are proud that many highly respected companies such as Schroders have been with us for 7+ years.

What is your selling point for sponsorships?

An audience you don't meet that easy otherwise - not in our high numbers, not in our great quality, combined with unique industry intelligence that they can gain by attending our forums.

From your own experience - what are the greatest mistakes sponsors make when attending your event?

The two classics of what goes wrong when sponsors don't listen to my advice: 1. Hiding behind presenting too much data, instead of getting to the point. Or 2. making it an aggressive sales pitch - our audience wants expertise and learn something, not being sold at upfront.

So, what could they do better? And what do families expect from sponsors in terms of content, services and contribution at your events?

Sharing knowledge and having a conversation comes first! Sponsors pay us to meet such special people and show them their expertise, not to sell hard.

On a more general note - what are family office hotspots and why?

Statistics say London, New York, Switzerland and a rising number of Asian and Chinese cities. To answer this question, one must divide between a) residence and b) places where Family Offices do investment and business and c) registered offices for reasons such as tax. For example, London and NYC are known for making money, Zurich and Singapore known as places for residence, and the ABC islands or British crown colonies for tax reasons. I believe: The world keeps becoming smaller and smaller, however local events make lots of sense. "Think global act local" as you know the saying.

What do you advise families from emerging and frontier markets who want and need to network with their peers?

Come and join us at our events, and meet peers and selected experts! :-)

Are there any new locations in the pipeline where you will introduce P&P events?

With London, New York, Dubai, Singapore, Wiesbaden, and Zurich we are quite busy, but do look at Hong Kong (in terms of being a hub for Chinese outward investments) and Miami (in terms of being a LatAm hub for all South American wealth). Although the demand from our own network is so high that we could do ten more events if we had the capacity, but for now, we rather do 6 events really good, than 10 not to the T.

What are your upcoming events in 2019?

September sees London, where we had amazing speakers last year such as family members from the iconic Westminster Estate, or the famous Hinduja family. This year will top this, also with a Gala dinner - check our website in a short while! October sees our event in the Harvard Club in NYC. Doing well while doing good is a key theme for this event with plenty of Billionaire speakers and attendees. November sees our global gathering of wealth-owners and Family Offices flying in from all over the world to our Zurich location at the Dolder Grand. Can you tell Mrs. Broccoli* please that she misses out big time not using that place for her James Bond series? It was a pleasure talking to you and I am looking forward to meeting you again soon at the next Prestel & Partner forum.

It was a pleasure talking to you and I am looking forward to meeting you again soon at the next Prestel & Partner event.

It is my and our pleasure. There are not many people on this planet who understand that "Family Office" and "Family Office" is not always the same thing. It is wonderful that you, David understand what we do: Separating the real buy-side, from any Trojan horses using the term Family Office only in order to sell something. Thank you, David!

*Mrs. Barbara Broccoli is an American film producer known for her work on the James Bond film series.

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