• David Grammig

Main Topics Tabled At 2019 Family Office Events

Preparations are well underway for the next family office conference season starting this autumn. With organizers working harder than ever to attract the top families to their events, the topics under discussion are becoming increasingly vital. In general, there's a definite shift from pure investment topics to focussing more closely on purpose and values as families attending these events interact more frequently concerning these soft asset topics.

Shift from pure investment to softer and abstract issues.

Firstly, family offices and Ultra-High-Net-Worth Individuals (UHNWIs) are in the driving seat when it comes to shaping the world’s landscape, both today and into the future.

According to Zita Nikoletta Verbenyi, Managing Director at Prestel & Partner who run six forums annually for their global family office network “Family offices have their finger on the pulse of most of the world's innovative social, cultural, technological, and economic change. With all the converging horizons in the different fields, there is a growing need for a collective, agile approach, and exchange of ideas, invaluable expertise, and unique experiences to tackle unprecedented opportunities along with their challenges."

On a macro-level, this change is driven not only by economic factors but also by social and cultural shifts paired with accelerating technological development. However, this change also originates in the internal environment of these family businesses, with Next Generation family members stepping up and into their roles as the leaders of tomorrow. These leaders, taking cues from the millennial mindset, want to bring this new mode of thinking into their families, but must accomplish this while avoiding the appearance of naiveté in their suggestions.

With this massive transition already changing the current family office landscape, there are immense amounts of subtle exchanges that are vital to happen on the most crucial topics. These may range from family-only talks and engaging and insightful discussions between family offices, UHNWIs, and their advisers and solution providers to family offices learning from their most established and international peers.

Some of the key topics identified for this season are as follows:

1. The Future

Devise sustainable governance models, operational efficiency, succession planning, cyber security, and other forward-looking solutions and structures that will future-proof your office.

2. Values

Values are essential in themselves and can also induce agility, encouraging family engagement, alternative education, reverse innovation, and other salutary developments.

3. Purpose and Impact

Many concerns fall under this ambit, including climate change action, inclusive investing, social entrepreneurship and sustainable businesses. Driven largely by next generation family office members the agenda is to achieve excellent returns while making a desirable impact.

4. Technology

Technology is increasingly essential to family offices in a variety of ways, ranging from life sciences, genomics, Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, and more. Adopting this is important not only in practical- but also in ethical terms.

5. Transparency

There are many facets to Transparency, ranging from questions of how to reclaim and monetize our data, social contracts, the journey and power of consent, the tackling of fake news, and more.

6. Region-specific topics

Another exciting development in the field of event programming is the rise of events focused more closely around regional topics. Global family office insights are always valuable, but those with a specific local focus have become increasingly relevant.

According to David Grammig from the Grammig Advisory, who also heads 5 annual events for Alea Group including the new EastMed FO Exchange, "Most conferences put their attention on Asset Protection, the EastMed FO Exchange will speak at length about Asset Accessibility."

This focus makes for a compelling case, and families in countries that experienced capital market controls (Cyprus and Greece) or economies where the value of the local currencies diminishes daily (Turkey) face this with increasing frequency. It is therefore essential not merely to discuss wealth preservation and asset protection, but also to make those discussions accessible.

"The freedom of capital movement is one of the four fundamental freedoms underlying the mechanism of the EU internal market, as well as the ability to do business internationally." Grammig continues.

Most families, even if they have their peer networks, require some level of external support from advisors, service providers, or practitioners.

Verbenyi adds “There is, however, still a palpable disconnection and lack of trust between families, UHNWIs and the various other players in the family office arena. Understanding each other, the needs and expectations from the families' or other wealth holder's side are crucial. There is a great need, therefore for well-curated discussions, which provide opportunities to explore multiple perspectives.”

The post originally appeared on Forbes.com

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