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The rapidly evolving geopolitical and regulatory landscape is prompting families to call increasingly on outsourced experts for specialist support around legacy and succession planning, risk management and sustainability, according to speakers at this year’s Jersey Finance Private Wealth Conference.

Held recently, the event (‘Strategies for a World in Transition’) of which Crestbridge Family Office Services was a sponsor, was attended by Heather Tibbo, CEO, Daniel Channing, Director and John Harris, Chair.

Across the keynote speakers and panel sessions, key issues highlighted at the event included:

  • The importance of working with partners and advisers to pre-empt imminent global risks, including AI, market instability, political and social volatility and climate change
  • The growing appetite to integrate legacy planning and sustainability into wealth strategies
  • Legacy for families is as much about the transfer of values as it is about the transfer of wealth
  • The appeal of stable jurisdictions is set to grow even further in a world that is increasingly volatile

Commenting on the event, Heather Tibbo said:

“The clear message was that political, regulatory and legislative change is prompting families to call on the expertise of their advisers and partners more and more as they try to navigate an unknown future. Being on the front foot is really important, and we’re absolutely seeing that play out amongst forward-thinking families who are focused on robust, innovative planning and want to ensure an impactful legacy.”

Daniel Channing added:

“Families are alive to the risks the current environment presents – what these families do however recognise is that a common purpose and shared values can provide a stable core around which they can find stability. To truly harness and implement the benefit of that purpose and value families recognise the need for specialist advice and sophisticated governance. These families are in a world that provides significant challenges, but that also offers up much opportunity too. With the support of external experts and with a solid foundation and structuring options through jurisdictions like Jersey, families are being positive in their outlook, setting themselves up well for future wealth transfer and investment.”

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Recent years have seen a clear trend for high and ultra-high net worth individuals and families to move increasingly towards a Virtual Family Office (VFOs) model to help manage their increasingly diverse assets, investments and business affairs – something that Crestbridge Family Office Services director Daniel Channing explained to eprivateclient.

In essence, a VFO is a wide group of consultants servicing the assets and supporting the specialist needs of families from afar, with responsibilities usually divided amongst the group and clearly delineated, as opposed to the more traditional, physical family office with salaried staff.

A number of factors are driving this trend, Mr Channing explained.

In particular, multigenerational family dynamics, the shifting needs of the next generation and a greater diversity of focus are making family interests more complex – in terms of family members, ‘branches’ and geographies, as well as investment interests, businesses and asset classes.

This broadening span is, Mr Channing said, a key driver to family offices having to scale in both size, expertise and jurisdictional reach, leading to a greater propensity to turn to trusted external partners to support those complex areas.

In addition, the uptake of the VFO model is also being driven by the increasingly challenging landscape of international regulation and requirements around, for instance, reporting relating to more diverse investment strategies or beneficial ownership disclosure.

These factors are ‘the stick’ – all demanding more of families and precipitating the demand for specialist expertise; expertise that need not necessarily be ‘on the ground’ locally but could be tapped into wherever it is in the world.

In addition, the continued progression of communications technology has meant that the transition to remote and hybrid working practices has been relatively smooth. This is ‘the carrot’ – the enabler that has meant the shift to accessing the best expertise, wherever it is, is absolutely possible.

“The VFO has become a very viable option for families at all levels,” Mr Channing said.

“Getting the very best expertise and support is what families ultimately want – and actually it can be far more accessible, more flexible and more cost effective to be able to tap into that expertise remotely or virtually.”

Mr Channing explained that a key benefit of a VFO was its flexibility.

Rather than a fixed office with a static staff, a VFO functions as a group of advisors and consultants orbiting the family, and ‘departments’ can be added or removed with greater ease than traditional recruiting.

They enable families to respond to changes in the market or indeed the family itself with speed and without incurring the fixed, longer-term costs of salaries and rent. They also allow families to access a wider range of expertise and experience than traditional FOs.

“If a family, for instance, wanted to move assets to a new jurisdiction,” explained Mr Channing, “it can be much faster, easier and potentially cheaper to consult with a remote team on a temporary basis than to set up a physical office and hire salaried employees.”

VFOs can also be very well equipped to deal with generational change in the family. As wealth cascades down and disperses through inheritance to multiple family members, more advisors can be consulted with this in mind, as and when necessary – for instance in new markets where a family has little existing experience or is not as comfortable.

“Family offices are having to become more sophisticated quite quickly,” Mr Channing said.

“A virtual structure can allow them to cope with that rapid change much better than a traditional approach, allowing them to get access to the very best financial advice, remain agile, and enabling them to meet the changing needs of the market.”

Such a fundamental shift in operations is not without its challenges, Mr Channing warned.

While a VFO can be very nimble, the nature of the ‘office’ means that direct communication between advisors, who may have entirely different responsibilities, can be difficult.

“It’s important to be mindful that VFOs have the potential to create ‘silos’, where consultants do not interact, and this can lead to opportunities slipping through the cracks or a lack of efficiency,” Mr Channing advised.

“Clear and effective leadership is necessary to prevent mistakes and losses due to this lack of communication.”

In addition, while VFOs are very flexible in addressing logistical and regulatory challenges, they can struggle when it comes to technology, Mr Channing warned.

He explained that they can be less secure than traditional FOs, who will run their own servers and house their own data, and because the consultants all work for different firms, they may prove to be slower than more centralised operations in adopting, for example, the potential benefits of AI systems.

“While there are challenges in the operation of VFOs, most can be solved with a focus on strong leadership, regular and easy access to the family, and a clear focus on the mandate – while assigning an experienced, trusted service provider that can act as a central point of contact and liaison for all parties can be an effective approach,” Mr Channing said.

“If the founders remain close to the operation and ensure a high level of cooperation between the advisors involved,” added Mr Channing, “then there is no reason why the VFO can’t be an incredibly exciting opportunity for families to grow their wealth and secure their holdings for years to come.”

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Good communication, a focus on education and careful consideration of the interpretation of ‘purpose’ were all on the agenda at a wealth-focused roundtable recently, in which Daniel Channing, Director at Crestbridge Family Office Services, participated.

Organised by Jersey Finance, the roundtable involved an invited group of London and Jersey-based intermediaries to discuss and debate what ‘responsible stewardship of wealth’ means to them and their clients.

Speaking at the event, Daniel highlighted that ‘purpose’ was increasingly a key word when considering options for families who are looking at how they manage their wealth with a conscience, appreciating that ‘wealth’ goes beyond financial gain.

“It’s important to note, though, that every family has their own unique situation,” added Daniel. “Global economic instability, inflation and the current high interest rate environment is also creating uncertainty and complications in making these decisions.”

Other participants agreed that integrating purpose into family strategies brings with it a need to explore concepts of social capital and to ensure that decisions taken tie in with a client’s values and often diverse viewpoints. Participants stressed that advisers have a key duty here in helping families recognise what is important and support them in applying a more conscious approach in adhering to the family’s values in line with their governance framework.

Beyond purpose, discussions at the roundtable also focused on educating the younger generation by cutting through jargon and obstructive language in order to safeguard future wealth transfer, while participants were also keen to emphasise the importance of good, open conversations with clients, and establishing a process for reviewing structures carefully and frequently to ensure they remain fit for purpose in a rapidly evolving world.

Reflecting on the roundtable, Daniel said:

“This was a really lively discussion that served to highlight some of the key issues for the family advisory community at the moment, when it comes to responsible stewardship.

“Certainly families want and need to address their interpretation of ‘purpose’ carefully – and that is achieved through good communication between advisers and clients, having strong governance frameworks in place, and focusing on nextgen education, as they prepare to take over the reins to manage their families’ wealth.”

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Why good governance should underpin luxury asset strategies

News
8 June 2023

Daniel Channing, Director, Crestbridge Family Office Services, examines the growing importance of luxury assets in investment portfolios, and the need for strategic governance to align them with a family’s wealth strategy.

This article was published in ALM’s The Month – Luxury Assets Magazine – May 2023

The indications are that wealthy families continue to hold some form of luxury asset within their investment portfolios. Such assets make up some 5% of investable wealth on average – that’s the same proportion as gold and crypto assets combined (Knight Frank Wealth Report 2023).

And possibly with good reason – the latest Knight Frank Luxury Investment Index rose by a healthy 16% during 2022, beating inflation and outperforming most mainstream investment classes. Art was the top performer, growing by 29%, according to the Index, with classic cars rising 25%.

There is, however, some differential within the sector – wine grew 10% (down from 16% the previous year), while whisky was up just 3%.

Often for families, returns when it comes to luxury assts are not necessarily the be all and end all – they are ultimately investments of passion, sentiment, interest and lifestyle. Yachts and private planes, for instance, may meet the lifestyle requirements of a family, but they are notoriously expensive assets to hold, depreciating in value and delivering very little, if any, income return.

But when do non-income generating luxury assets become a problem for the family strategy more widely – particularly with total UHNWI wealth having been eroded by some 10% last year against challenging and high inflation versus previous years market conditions (Knight Frank), and with the nextgen continuing to take more of an interest in driving family portfolios?

Fresh Look

With almost a third of wealthy private investors targeting capital growth this year (Knight Frank), the role of luxury assets within a portfolio may well become part of the conversations between advisers and their clients in the coming months, as they take a fresh look at how hard their investments are working and how they could be put to work harder to generate returns.

Crucial in this scenario is looking at where luxury assets sit within the wider portfolio and the family’s wealth strategy holistically. Often, of course, family wealth creators are emotionally tied to their luxury assets and may well consider them to be part of their family legacy. At the same time, though, those assets may well be at odds with the shifting priorities and values of the increasingly influential nextgen.

In any situation, of course, a family will want to avoid the potential for future disputes – and advisers have a crucial role to play in putting in place measures from the outset that can reduce that risk.

At the heart of this is good governance. Advisers with a focus on nurturing close, positive relationships with their clients are best placed to deliver on that. By understanding their clients, bringing all stakeholders to the table, advisers can establish clearly what a family’s fundamental values are and what its shared vision is.

Is there, for example, a mismatch between what a family says its core values are, and what is reflected through its existing portfolio allocation and the luxury assets within it? Does it ‘fit’?

Equally, deep conversations with an adviser can reveal whether there is a concentration risk when it comes to luxury assets, which often have high or fluctuating valuations. One piece of art can significantly shift in value, up or down, for instance, and make a considerable impact on the total wealth valuation – which in turn could impact its risk profile. An adviser can in this instance guide a family as to whether there is a need to think about diversifying to meet its overall wealth objectives.

Indeed, when it comes to luxury assets, families should see it as an opportunity to make sure they have robust, independent, good quality legal and advisory frameworks in place to avoid current and future intergenerational disputes.

All this can subsequently be documented through the family charter, investment strategy, letters of wishes and other documentation, providing a clear framework that should help guide them in an area that is so easily impacted by individual sentimental and emotional preferences.

Practicalities

Balancing the growth, purpose and legacy objectives can be a tricky task but, with a foundation of good governance and sound documentation, there is still undoubtedly a place for luxury assets within a wider portfolio.

There are some practicalities, though, that can help ensure such assets are properly managed and structured.

First and foremost, luxury assets frequently require specialist expertise if they are to be managed effectively. That might mean, for instance, getting specialist insurance advice where family art may be moved across borders, or drawing on yacht management services to administer crew and ensure adequate marine insurance is in place. Bringing in the right expertise early can dramatically reduce risk in the long run.

Taking a view on a family’s structures and whether they offer enough, or too much, flexibility in terms of holding assets is another practical point that should be addressed.

Luxury assets are often acquired to be enjoyed by a family – art, jewellery, or vintage cars for example. Others, such as fine wine or whisky, may form part of a collection. Whatever the approach, choosing the right structure is an important factor in achieving the desired and proportionate flexibility – protecting the assets while allowing a family to enjoy those assets too.

Ownership is a key question too when it comes to structuring luxury assets – regrettably there can be instances where question marks over ownership of an asset can lead to inter-family disputes. The case of Robert Tibbles, a collector of contemporary art, and one of his pieces of artwork, a Damien Hirst painting entitled ‘Beautiful tropical, jungle painting (with pink snot)’, is a case in point. Robert’s father, Nigel, and twin brother, Sebastian, sued him over ownership of the piece when it was sold, leading to an unfortunate and bitter family dispute – clear structuring played a key part in resolving that case.

In addition, if structured appropriately, it may well be possible for non-income generating luxury assets such as art to be used as leverage to generate capital liquidity – thereby meeting the needs of both the wealth creator and the nextgen, without directly impacting the asset itself.

Evolution

As families look to a new era of investment, shaped by the need to balance their own growth ambitions with the desire for purpose-driven investment and a need to integrate the values of the nextgen, advisers have a responsibility to ensure luxury assets are managed and structured appropriately as part of a family’s holistic wealth management strategy.

Really understanding the needs and ambitions of a family as a whole by cultivating a close relationship with them is critical in establishing a robust governance framework that can cater for the appetite to hold luxury assets on the one hand with the need to generate returns on the other. By taking a number of practical steps -from establishing good oversight models and structuring to seeking specialist expertise where needed – luxury assets can continue to provide both the family enjoyment and legacy they promise, and play a role as part of a wider investment portfolio.

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Inflationary markets: families take stock

News
18 May 2023

Daniel Channing, Director, Crestbridge Family Office Services, examines the growing importance of luxury assets in investment portfolios, and the need for strategic governance to align them with a family’s wealth strategy.

This article was published in ALM’s The Month – Luxury Assets Magazine – May 2023

The indications are that wealthy families continue to hold some form of luxury asset within their investment portfolios. Such assets make up some 5% of investable wealth on average – that’s the same proportion as gold and crypto assets combined (Knight Frank Wealth Report 2023).

And possibly with good reason – the latest Knight Frank Luxury Investment Index rose by a healthy 16% during 2022, beating inflation and outperforming most mainstream investment classes. Art was the top performer, growing by 29%, according to the Index, with classic cars rising 25%.

There is, however, some differential within the sector – wine grew 10% (down from 16% the previous year), while whisky was up just 3%.

Often for families, returns when it comes to luxury assts are not necessarily the be all and end all – they are ultimately investments of passion, sentiment, interest and lifestyle. Yachts and private planes, for instance, may meet the lifestyle requirements of a family, but they are notoriously expensive assets to hold, depreciating in value and delivering very little, if any, income return.

But when do non-income generating luxury assets become a problem for the family strategy more widely – particularly with total UHNWI wealth having been eroded by some 10% last year against challenging and high inflation versus previous years market conditions (Knight Frank), and with the nextgen continuing to take more of an interest in driving family portfolios?

Fresh Look

With almost a third of wealthy private investors targeting capital growth this year (Knight Frank), the role of luxury assets within a portfolio may well become part of the conversations between advisers and their clients in the coming months, as they take a fresh look at how hard their investments are working and how they could be put to work harder to generate returns.

Crucial in this scenario is looking at where luxury assets sit within the wider portfolio and the family’s wealth strategy holistically. Often, of course, family wealth creators are emotionally tied to their luxury assets and may well consider them to be part of their family legacy. At the same time, though, those assets may well be at odds with the shifting priorities and values of the increasingly influential nextgen.

In any situation, of course, a family will want to avoid the potential for future disputes – and advisers have a crucial role to play in putting in place measures from the outset that can reduce that risk.

At the heart of this is good governance. Advisers with a focus on nurturing close, positive relationships with their clients are best placed to deliver on that. By understanding their clients, bringing all stakeholders to the table, advisers can establish clearly what a family’s fundamental values are and what its shared vision is.

Is there, for example, a mismatch between what a family says its core values are, and what is reflected through its existing portfolio allocation and the luxury assets within it? Does it ‘fit’?

Equally, deep conversations with an adviser can reveal whether there is a concentration risk when it comes to luxury assets, which often have high or fluctuating valuations. One piece of art can significantly shift in value, up or down, for instance, and make a considerable impact on the total wealth valuation – which in turn could impact its risk profile. An adviser can in this instance guide a family as to whether there is a need to think about diversifying to meet its overall wealth objectives.

Indeed, when it comes to luxury assets, families should see it as an opportunity to make sure they have robust, independent, good quality legal and advisory frameworks in place to avoid current and future intergenerational disputes.

All this can subsequently be documented through the family charter, investment strategy, letters of wishes and other documentation, providing a clear framework that should help guide them in an area that is so easily impacted by individual sentimental and emotional preferences.

Practicalities

Balancing the growth, purpose and legacy objectives can be a tricky task but, with a foundation of good governance and sound documentation, there is still undoubtedly a place for luxury assets within a wider portfolio.

There are some practicalities, though, that can help ensure such assets are properly managed and structured.

First and foremost, luxury assets frequently require specialist expertise if they are to be managed effectively. That might mean, for instance, getting specialist insurance advice where family art may be moved across borders, or drawing on yacht management services to administer crew and ensure adequate marine insurance is in place. Bringing in the right expertise early can dramatically reduce risk in the long run.

Taking a view on a family’s structures and whether they offer enough, or too much, flexibility in terms of holding assets is another practical point that should be addressed.

Luxury assets are often acquired to be enjoyed by a family – art, jewellery, or vintage cars for example. Others, such as fine wine or whisky, may form part of a collection. Whatever the approach, choosing the right structure is an important factor in achieving the desired and proportionate flexibility – protecting the assets while allowing a family to enjoy those assets too.

Ownership is a key question too when it comes to structuring luxury assets – regrettably there can be instances where question marks over ownership of an asset can lead to inter-family disputes. The case of Robert Tibbles, a collector of contemporary art, and one of his pieces of artwork, a Damien Hirst painting entitled ‘Beautiful tropical, jungle painting (with pink snot)’, is a case in point. Robert’s father, Nigel, and twin brother, Sebastian, sued him over ownership of the piece when it was sold, leading to an unfortunate and bitter family dispute – clear structuring played a key part in resolving that case.

In addition, if structured appropriately, it may well be possible for non-income generating luxury assets such as art to be used as leverage to generate capital liquidity – thereby meeting the needs of both the wealth creator and the nextgen, without directly impacting the asset itself.

Evolution

As families look to a new era of investment, shaped by the need to balance their own growth ambitions with the desire for purpose-driven investment and a need to integrate the values of the nextgen, advisers have a responsibility to ensure luxury assets are managed and structured appropriately as part of a family’s holistic wealth management strategy.

Really understanding the needs and ambitions of a family as a whole by cultivating a close relationship with them is critical in establishing a robust governance framework that can cater for the appetite to hold luxury assets on the one hand with the need to generate returns on the other. By taking a number of practical steps -from establishing good oversight models and structuring to seeking specialist expertise where needed – luxury assets can continue to provide both the family enjoyment and legacy they promise, and play a role as part of a wider investment portfolio.

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Crestbridge team maintain support of National Trust hedgerow conservation initiative

News CSR
22 March 2023

Daniel Channing, Director, Crestbridge Family Office Services, examines the growing importance of luxury assets in investment portfolios, and the need for strategic governance to align them with a family’s wealth strategy.

This article was published in ALM’s The Month – Luxury Assets Magazine – May 2023

The indications are that wealthy families continue to hold some form of luxury asset within their investment portfolios. Such assets make up some 5% of investable wealth on average – that’s the same proportion as gold and crypto assets combined (Knight Frank Wealth Report 2023).

And possibly with good reason – the latest Knight Frank Luxury Investment Index rose by a healthy 16% during 2022, beating inflation and outperforming most mainstream investment classes. Art was the top performer, growing by 29%, according to the Index, with classic cars rising 25%.

There is, however, some differential within the sector – wine grew 10% (down from 16% the previous year), while whisky was up just 3%.

Often for families, returns when it comes to luxury assts are not necessarily the be all and end all – they are ultimately investments of passion, sentiment, interest and lifestyle. Yachts and private planes, for instance, may meet the lifestyle requirements of a family, but they are notoriously expensive assets to hold, depreciating in value and delivering very little, if any, income return.

But when do non-income generating luxury assets become a problem for the family strategy more widely – particularly with total UHNWI wealth having been eroded by some 10% last year against challenging and high inflation versus previous years market conditions (Knight Frank), and with the nextgen continuing to take more of an interest in driving family portfolios?

Fresh Look

With almost a third of wealthy private investors targeting capital growth this year (Knight Frank), the role of luxury assets within a portfolio may well become part of the conversations between advisers and their clients in the coming months, as they take a fresh look at how hard their investments are working and how they could be put to work harder to generate returns.

Crucial in this scenario is looking at where luxury assets sit within the wider portfolio and the family’s wealth strategy holistically. Often, of course, family wealth creators are emotionally tied to their luxury assets and may well consider them to be part of their family legacy. At the same time, though, those assets may well be at odds with the shifting priorities and values of the increasingly influential nextgen.

In any situation, of course, a family will want to avoid the potential for future disputes – and advisers have a crucial role to play in putting in place measures from the outset that can reduce that risk.

At the heart of this is good governance. Advisers with a focus on nurturing close, positive relationships with their clients are best placed to deliver on that. By understanding their clients, bringing all stakeholders to the table, advisers can establish clearly what a family’s fundamental values are and what its shared vision is.

Is there, for example, a mismatch between what a family says its core values are, and what is reflected through its existing portfolio allocation and the luxury assets within it? Does it ‘fit’?

Equally, deep conversations with an adviser can reveal whether there is a concentration risk when it comes to luxury assets, which often have high or fluctuating valuations. One piece of art can significantly shift in value, up or down, for instance, and make a considerable impact on the total wealth valuation – which in turn could impact its risk profile. An adviser can in this instance guide a family as to whether there is a need to think about diversifying to meet its overall wealth objectives.

Indeed, when it comes to luxury assets, families should see it as an opportunity to make sure they have robust, independent, good quality legal and advisory frameworks in place to avoid current and future intergenerational disputes.

All this can subsequently be documented through the family charter, investment strategy, letters of wishes and other documentation, providing a clear framework that should help guide them in an area that is so easily impacted by individual sentimental and emotional preferences.

Practicalities

Balancing the growth, purpose and legacy objectives can be a tricky task but, with a foundation of good governance and sound documentation, there is still undoubtedly a place for luxury assets within a wider portfolio.

There are some practicalities, though, that can help ensure such assets are properly managed and structured.

First and foremost, luxury assets frequently require specialist expertise if they are to be managed effectively. That might mean, for instance, getting specialist insurance advice where family art may be moved across borders, or drawing on yacht management services to administer crew and ensure adequate marine insurance is in place. Bringing in the right expertise early can dramatically reduce risk in the long run.

Taking a view on a family’s structures and whether they offer enough, or too much, flexibility in terms of holding assets is another practical point that should be addressed.

Luxury assets are often acquired to be enjoyed by a family – art, jewellery, or vintage cars for example. Others, such as fine wine or whisky, may form part of a collection. Whatever the approach, choosing the right structure is an important factor in achieving the desired and proportionate flexibility – protecting the assets while allowing a family to enjoy those assets too.

Ownership is a key question too when it comes to structuring luxury assets – regrettably there can be instances where question marks over ownership of an asset can lead to inter-family disputes. The case of Robert Tibbles, a collector of contemporary art, and one of his pieces of artwork, a Damien Hirst painting entitled ‘Beautiful tropical, jungle painting (with pink snot)’, is a case in point. Robert’s father, Nigel, and twin brother, Sebastian, sued him over ownership of the piece when it was sold, leading to an unfortunate and bitter family dispute – clear structuring played a key part in resolving that case.

In addition, if structured appropriately, it may well be possible for non-income generating luxury assets such as art to be used as leverage to generate capital liquidity – thereby meeting the needs of both the wealth creator and the nextgen, without directly impacting the asset itself.

Evolution

As families look to a new era of investment, shaped by the need to balance their own growth ambitions with the desire for purpose-driven investment and a need to integrate the values of the nextgen, advisers have a responsibility to ensure luxury assets are managed and structured appropriately as part of a family’s holistic wealth management strategy.

Really understanding the needs and ambitions of a family as a whole by cultivating a close relationship with them is critical in establishing a robust governance framework that can cater for the appetite to hold luxury assets on the one hand with the need to generate returns on the other. By taking a number of practical steps -from establishing good oversight models and structuring to seeking specialist expertise where needed – luxury assets can continue to provide both the family enjoyment and legacy they promise, and play a role as part of a wider investment portfolio.

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Crestbridge professionals discuss structuring, governance and NextGen demands at London private wealth forum

News
6 March 2023

Daniel Channing, Director, Crestbridge Family Office Services, examines the growing importance of luxury assets in investment portfolios, and the need for strategic governance to align them with a family’s wealth strategy.

This article was published in ALM’s The Month – Luxury Assets Magazine – May 2023

The indications are that wealthy families continue to hold some form of luxury asset within their investment portfolios. Such assets make up some 5% of investable wealth on average – that’s the same proportion as gold and crypto assets combined (Knight Frank Wealth Report 2023).

And possibly with good reason – the latest Knight Frank Luxury Investment Index rose by a healthy 16% during 2022, beating inflation and outperforming most mainstream investment classes. Art was the top performer, growing by 29%, according to the Index, with classic cars rising 25%.

There is, however, some differential within the sector – wine grew 10% (down from 16% the previous year), while whisky was up just 3%.

Often for families, returns when it comes to luxury assts are not necessarily the be all and end all – they are ultimately investments of passion, sentiment, interest and lifestyle. Yachts and private planes, for instance, may meet the lifestyle requirements of a family, but they are notoriously expensive assets to hold, depreciating in value and delivering very little, if any, income return.

But when do non-income generating luxury assets become a problem for the family strategy more widely – particularly with total UHNWI wealth having been eroded by some 10% last year against challenging and high inflation versus previous years market conditions (Knight Frank), and with the nextgen continuing to take more of an interest in driving family portfolios?

Fresh Look

With almost a third of wealthy private investors targeting capital growth this year (Knight Frank), the role of luxury assets within a portfolio may well become part of the conversations between advisers and their clients in the coming months, as they take a fresh look at how hard their investments are working and how they could be put to work harder to generate returns.

Crucial in this scenario is looking at where luxury assets sit within the wider portfolio and the family’s wealth strategy holistically. Often, of course, family wealth creators are emotionally tied to their luxury assets and may well consider them to be part of their family legacy. At the same time, though, those assets may well be at odds with the shifting priorities and values of the increasingly influential nextgen.

In any situation, of course, a family will want to avoid the potential for future disputes – and advisers have a crucial role to play in putting in place measures from the outset that can reduce that risk.

At the heart of this is good governance. Advisers with a focus on nurturing close, positive relationships with their clients are best placed to deliver on that. By understanding their clients, bringing all stakeholders to the table, advisers can establish clearly what a family’s fundamental values are and what its shared vision is.

Is there, for example, a mismatch between what a family says its core values are, and what is reflected through its existing portfolio allocation and the luxury assets within it? Does it ‘fit’?

Equally, deep conversations with an adviser can reveal whether there is a concentration risk when it comes to luxury assets, which often have high or fluctuating valuations. One piece of art can significantly shift in value, up or down, for instance, and make a considerable impact on the total wealth valuation – which in turn could impact its risk profile. An adviser can in this instance guide a family as to whether there is a need to think about diversifying to meet its overall wealth objectives.

Indeed, when it comes to luxury assets, families should see it as an opportunity to make sure they have robust, independent, good quality legal and advisory frameworks in place to avoid current and future intergenerational disputes.

All this can subsequently be documented through the family charter, investment strategy, letters of wishes and other documentation, providing a clear framework that should help guide them in an area that is so easily impacted by individual sentimental and emotional preferences.

Practicalities

Balancing the growth, purpose and legacy objectives can be a tricky task but, with a foundation of good governance and sound documentation, there is still undoubtedly a place for luxury assets within a wider portfolio.

There are some practicalities, though, that can help ensure such assets are properly managed and structured.

First and foremost, luxury assets frequently require specialist expertise if they are to be managed effectively. That might mean, for instance, getting specialist insurance advice where family art may be moved across borders, or drawing on yacht management services to administer crew and ensure adequate marine insurance is in place. Bringing in the right expertise early can dramatically reduce risk in the long run.

Taking a view on a family’s structures and whether they offer enough, or too much, flexibility in terms of holding assets is another practical point that should be addressed.

Luxury assets are often acquired to be enjoyed by a family – art, jewellery, or vintage cars for example. Others, such as fine wine or whisky, may form part of a collection. Whatever the approach, choosing the right structure is an important factor in achieving the desired and proportionate flexibility – protecting the assets while allowing a family to enjoy those assets too.

Ownership is a key question too when it comes to structuring luxury assets – regrettably there can be instances where question marks over ownership of an asset can lead to inter-family disputes. The case of Robert Tibbles, a collector of contemporary art, and one of his pieces of artwork, a Damien Hirst painting entitled ‘Beautiful tropical, jungle painting (with pink snot)’, is a case in point. Robert’s father, Nigel, and twin brother, Sebastian, sued him over ownership of the piece when it was sold, leading to an unfortunate and bitter family dispute – clear structuring played a key part in resolving that case.

In addition, if structured appropriately, it may well be possible for non-income generating luxury assets such as art to be used as leverage to generate capital liquidity – thereby meeting the needs of both the wealth creator and the nextgen, without directly impacting the asset itself.

Evolution

As families look to a new era of investment, shaped by the need to balance their own growth ambitions with the desire for purpose-driven investment and a need to integrate the values of the nextgen, advisers have a responsibility to ensure luxury assets are managed and structured appropriately as part of a family’s holistic wealth management strategy.

Really understanding the needs and ambitions of a family as a whole by cultivating a close relationship with them is critical in establishing a robust governance framework that can cater for the appetite to hold luxury assets on the one hand with the need to generate returns on the other. By taking a number of practical steps -from establishing good oversight models and structuring to seeking specialist expertise where needed – luxury assets can continue to provide both the family enjoyment and legacy they promise, and play a role as part of a wider investment portfolio.

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Fit for purpose

News
3 October 2022

Daniel Channing, Director, Crestbridge Family Office Services, examines why it may now be the perfect time for families to assess their structures holistically, ensuring they are both future-proofed and fit for purpose…

Q: Why is it particularly important to be proactive in reviewing family structures at the current time?

Daniel Channing (DC): Fundamentally it is always a useful exercise periodically to review structures. This is because, by their very nature, a family’s circumstances and requirements evolve.

However there is currently a heightened sensitivity to political tensions, geopolitical instability, and inflationary pressures, as well as greater public scrutiny. Families, who were already becoming more sophisticated and multijurisdictional in their outlook and behaviours, need to navigate through it and find clarity in what is a complex environment.

For this reason I feel that right now is an unprecedented opportunity for family advisers to demonstrate their capabilities and ensure their clients are comfortable and prepared for the future. Being proactive now – reviewing existing structures and documents, revisiting family values – could really help families focus on their future direction, and future-proof their strategies.

 

Q: Does this indicate a different approach to what family office advisers have done in the past?

DC: It feels like this new context is a bit different. Families have faced pressures, challenges, and crises in the past. However a generally increased sophistication within a family’s understanding of their structuring, and what it truly seeks to achieve, is focusing minds at the moment. There are two major drivers behind this – a greater focus now on sustainability, and acceleration of digital adoption. Both are evolving constantly and at increasing speed.

For some families this is exciting, revealing new possibilities that they are keen to embrace and explore. For others, though, it’s really challenging, and is questioning their traditional values and disrupting business as usual.

Our ethos remains to work as an extension of our clients’ teams. But this new context gives us added impetus and rationale to be proactive in ensuring every aspect of their structure, model and approach is future-proof.

 

Q: So what does this mean in practice?

DC: It’s a bit of a cliché, but it’s true that all families are different, and advisers have always needed to adapt to make sure they are able to give independent advice tailored to the individual, and to their circumstances.

It’s the greater complexity of the environment families are now operating in, and the pace of change within that environment, that means that being proactive, and not waiting until the next challenge comes around, is so important. Ultimately, what families want is certainty.

We’ve seen this in several ways in recent months – from working with families to enable them to address specific challenges to managing the migration of decision-making to the next generation.

Governance and oversight is a key area where families are looking for greater support as they gear up for the future. The regulatory, reporting and disclosure requirements families now face are a million miles from where they were just five years ago, and they’ve needed to ramp up expertise quickly. Getting expert advice to inform that journey is vital.

 

Q: Can you give any examples of how the team has been proactive?

DC: We’ve seen a definite trend towards looking carefully at succession planning and instilling a robust governance framework, but in our experience, families don’t want that to be at the expense of maintaining an element of flexibility for the future. They still want their structures to be able to accommodate future shifts in investment and succession strategies.

In some cases, that’s required the team to take on a more project management role – working hard to make sure governance protocols are watertight, but maintaining a close relationship with the family office
team to develop further governance frameworks as structures have evolved and a family’s desire has shifted to institutionalise their portfolio.

In one case, the team established a new regulated advisory firm in another jurisdiction and relocated part of the local office to achieve the aim. That included providing support around IT and operations, so a really holistic team-based approach.

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Investing together for the greater good

News
14 June 2022

Daniel Channing, Director, Crestbridge Family Office Services, examines why it may now be the perfect time for families to assess their structures holistically, ensuring they are both future-proofed and fit for purpose…

Q: Why is it particularly important to be proactive in reviewing family structures at the current time?

Daniel Channing (DC): Fundamentally it is always a useful exercise periodically to review structures. This is because, by their very nature, a family’s circumstances and requirements evolve.

However there is currently a heightened sensitivity to political tensions, geopolitical instability, and inflationary pressures, as well as greater public scrutiny. Families, who were already becoming more sophisticated and multijurisdictional in their outlook and behaviours, need to navigate through it and find clarity in what is a complex environment.

For this reason I feel that right now is an unprecedented opportunity for family advisers to demonstrate their capabilities and ensure their clients are comfortable and prepared for the future. Being proactive now – reviewing existing structures and documents, revisiting family values – could really help families focus on their future direction, and future-proof their strategies.

 

Q: Does this indicate a different approach to what family office advisers have done in the past?

DC: It feels like this new context is a bit different. Families have faced pressures, challenges, and crises in the past. However a generally increased sophistication within a family’s understanding of their structuring, and what it truly seeks to achieve, is focusing minds at the moment. There are two major drivers behind this – a greater focus now on sustainability, and acceleration of digital adoption. Both are evolving constantly and at increasing speed.

For some families this is exciting, revealing new possibilities that they are keen to embrace and explore. For others, though, it’s really challenging, and is questioning their traditional values and disrupting business as usual.

Our ethos remains to work as an extension of our clients’ teams. But this new context gives us added impetus and rationale to be proactive in ensuring every aspect of their structure, model and approach is future-proof.

 

Q: So what does this mean in practice?

DC: It’s a bit of a cliché, but it’s true that all families are different, and advisers have always needed to adapt to make sure they are able to give independent advice tailored to the individual, and to their circumstances.

It’s the greater complexity of the environment families are now operating in, and the pace of change within that environment, that means that being proactive, and not waiting until the next challenge comes around, is so important. Ultimately, what families want is certainty.

We’ve seen this in several ways in recent months – from working with families to enable them to address specific challenges to managing the migration of decision-making to the next generation.

Governance and oversight is a key area where families are looking for greater support as they gear up for the future. The regulatory, reporting and disclosure requirements families now face are a million miles from where they were just five years ago, and they’ve needed to ramp up expertise quickly. Getting expert advice to inform that journey is vital.

 

Q: Can you give any examples of how the team has been proactive?

DC: We’ve seen a definite trend towards looking carefully at succession planning and instilling a robust governance framework, but in our experience, families don’t want that to be at the expense of maintaining an element of flexibility for the future. They still want their structures to be able to accommodate future shifts in investment and succession strategies.

In some cases, that’s required the team to take on a more project management role – working hard to make sure governance protocols are watertight, but maintaining a close relationship with the family office
team to develop further governance frameworks as structures have evolved and a family’s desire has shifted to institutionalise their portfolio.

In one case, the team established a new regulated advisory firm in another jurisdiction and relocated part of the local office to achieve the aim. That included providing support around IT and operations, so a really holistic team-based approach.

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Middle East hubs are proving to be the sweet spot for family capital

News
7 June 2022

By Heather Tibbo, Group Head and Daniel Channing, Director

In February this year, the Dubai International Finance Centre (DIFC) reported its highest ever annual revenue and operating profit.

Meanwhile, in Saudi Arabia, Riyadh is focused on morphing from an oil and gas powerhouse into a business, commerce and finance hub, with experts forecasting that Saudi Arabia will become the preeminent finance hub in the Middle East within the next three years.


On the ground

This is a strong indication that key hubs in the Middle East, such as the DIFC and Riyadh, are being successful in diversifying their proposition and setting out their stalls as global players in cross-border investment.

From an international service provider perspective, it’s long been the case that centres in the Middle East have been active in the private client and family office market – but this is now broadening with investors in the region looking for increasingly sophisticated support to enable them to achieve their global investment aspirations.

At the same time, investors and family offices elsewhere in the world are looking more and more at the cross-border structuring and professional support services available through Middle East hubs like the DIFC and Riyadh to support their international ambitions too.

As local, regional and global investors increasingly put their faith in these Middle East hubs, it is our responsibility as service providers with the experience and expertise in cross-border structuring to support that trend with the same quality service and knowledge that we have applied in other markets too.

It has certainly been the message from family offices that the Middle East market is incredibly busy. Our experience on the ground is that the DIFC and Riyadh are seen as a nexus for investment into key growth markets, specifically Africa and Asia – providing a route from North to South (the UK/Europe to Africa), and from West to East (the US to Asia).

As well as the geographical positioning that plays out well for this sort of structuring opportunity, it is the tax neutral environment they provide that also lends itself perfectly to straightforward collective investment structures – an area where we are seeing particular activity at the moment amongst family offices.

Private equity and venture capital type deals are areas of particular activity, with family offices globally still sitting on significant amounts of dry powder, waiting to be allocated to the right target and put to work. The message is clear, though – it has to be the right target.

Which is why having a tried and tested route to market that can enable them to react quickly when the right opportunity comes along is so important – and the hubs in the Middle East are rising to that challenge.

As well as providing good structuring, attractive tax environments and good mechanisms for upstream investment vehicles needing neutral ground, hubs in the region are significantly enhancing their governance and regulatory frameworks and investing heavily in their hard and soft infrastructures – bolstering their regional stock exchanges, for example, to support listed fund business.

This is where there is significant opportunity for offshore vehicles in supporting the evolution of these hubs. We frequently see, for example, Jersey structures being used to complement activity in the Middle East, whilst the experience in centres like Jersey have in governance and cross border regulation is hugely prized by families and complements the work being done by advisors in the Middle East too.

As hubs in the Middle East continue to evolve and transition at pace from domestic to international centres, IFCs like Jersey can play a positive and complementary role. The fact that Jersey has been visiting the Middle East region for many years, has had a presence in the UAE since 2011 and is ramping up its visibility in Saudi Arabia, puts it in a strong position to support this trend.


The future

Both the DIFC and Riyadh have hugely ambitious but highly achievable growth plans for the years ahead.

2021 saw the approval, for instance, of the DIFC’s Strategy 2030, a new strategy that reflects the DIFC’s role in supporting sustained economic growth. It embraces new legislation relating to the expanded duties and responsibilities of the DIFC and promotes the values of efficiency, transparency and integrity, whilst also placing a real emphasis on innovation.

In Saudi Arabia meanwhile, the Vision 2030 strategy sets out an equally ambitious growth plan, with an aim to rebalance its economy, diversify into new sectors, from financial services to high-end manufacturing, tourism, entertainment and culture.

It’s clear that the Middle East, in particular the UAE and Saudi Arabia, provides significant opportunities to support family office structuring and private market cross-border investment, and the pace of change over the coming years will undoubtedly accelerate.

As a result, there are collaborative opportunities for professionals in IFCs like Jersey who are familiar with the Middle East region and who have so much experience in cross border structuring, to support that growth and achieve mutually beneficial outcomes – for IFCs like Jersey, for those hubs in the Middle East, and of course clients.