5 Things to Consider when Choosing a Family Office location
Historically, families with a high net worth would set up their family offices in their home town, city or jurisdiction. However, like most things, this habit is changing. Preferences, priorities and a dispersed family network geographically are pointing to a more global view when it comes to locating the family office. So, here are 5 Things to Consider when choosing a Family Office location.
Operational covers things like communication links and access to professional services. It’s important that any family office should be based in a location that has strong communication links. It should have a strong infrastructure which includes, accounting, tax, legal, banks and other professional services.
As with any family office, the family need to ensure a close relationship is maintained with the office staff to retain control over their assets. The easiest and most effective way to do this is through regular face to face meetings and phone calls.
The vast majority of us spend a lot of our working day speaking with clients. This is only practical as we are usually in the same time zones and speak the same language. Should it be a family business, the involvement of the family office and the management location of said business will need to be factored in.
One of the first things any family office needs to do is recruit and then retain the best professionals. Family offices are usually set up by long-standing trusted advisors of the family principal. Often it might these advisors home location that ends up being where the family office is set up and have structures in place to make the office run as tax-efficiently as possible.
The nature of the Office may impact the type of professionals required. Certain types of offices that are investment centric family offices, all to way to offices that are more aligned with succession, where a trustee and legal expert would be needed. Should it be a family investment office? It is often the case that it will need to be close to one of the main financial centres. Such as London or New York where they will have the ability to network with top investment experts.
This may not always be the main consideration, but it will be the first question asked should an office look to set up overseas. Or in several different locations.
Should a global approach be adopted towards tax management? The family office has the ability to preserve capital and increase the income for the family. There should be a balance made with the availability of the right experts that could lead to an onshore investment advisory arm of an offshore office along with an appropriate market rate investment management fee paid.
It’s possible to find a suitable location that has little or no regulation and in turn, have no regulatory cost to the family. Which is part of the attraction of course. You will need to seek specialist advice on this. As governments are trying to regulate more financial activities since the credit crunch.
Also, under the regulatory framework will be the legal structure the family office will use, employed staff, will also have a role to share ownership, the control between family members, limited liability and a creative tax structure. It might be worthwhile looking at a Private Trust Company. They will be able to assist in the control over trust structures.
Legal and Political Stability
Legal and political stability will be very relevant if the ownership structures are going to be based in the location of the family. On the other hand, this might be the reason that a family office would be set up in a different jurisdiction from where their wealth had been earned. This is often the case in families from emerging markets. Also, you’ll have some of these families that may have security and privacy concerns about managing their wealth in their home location.
It’s a given that in most European and North American countries there is a stable legal system. There is also a steady amount of new tax and regulatory standards that the EU, US, OECD and other international bodies are introducing in a move towards global exchange of information similar to US FATCA lines. This will be put pressure on countries like Austria and Switzerland who are bank secrecy jurisdictions. So, it’s important to see how the OECD, EU or any other bodies view the country you’re considering and its assessment of its current and future financial regime.
So there you have it, 5 Things to Consider when Choosing a Family Office location. Finally, should you need any further assistance. Please get in touch via our contact page, firstname.lastname@example.org or call +353 1 675 3140.