A Simple guide to family office recruitment

Recruitment
Updated on July 12, 2024

Table of Contents

As family offices proliferate and next-generation wealth owners take the helm, finding the right staff and team to support families across generations will be crucial. In this comphrehensive guide, we explore recruitment for family offices with data from the Simple community and insight from industry experts.

Introduction

This guide provides a deep dive into the unique aspects of recruiting for family offices. Drawing on insights from Simple’s experts and online research surveys, it suggests actionable tips and proven methods to navigate the recruitment process. With the purpose of providing an overview of the family office recruitment landscape, it covers all the basics, starting from identifying specific talent needs to implementing effective onboarding and retention strategies.

Acknowledgements

We’d like to express our gratitude to Besarta Dani (Hejmdal International), Brian Adams (Mack International), Janet Arzt (Parere Advisory), David Chie (Palo Alto Staffing) for their invaluable insights and expertise in shaping this guide. Their contributions from their respective specialities were instrumental in creating a comprehensive resource for family offices.

Getting started with family office recruitment

Like a university tenure, recruiting a family office employee can be akin to inviting someone to be a part of an institution for the duration of their professional career. As technology advances and new skills need to be developed, the fundamental core of the individual – their character and values – should remain steadfast.

The challenge of hiring for family offices

Family offices require nuanced staff roles where trust is crucial. When asked what the biggest challenge is in hiring a family office talent, the majority (63%) of respondents answered “ensuring that the individual fits with the family office environment.” 

Understanding family office recruitment

Family office recruitment is the process of actively searching, selecting, and hiring candidates for a specific position or job. Most family offices consist of investment teams that directly manage the financial affairs of UHNWIs and their families. However, many other positions are available, depending on the family’s specific needs.

“In my experience, the most important characteristic for a candidate looking to work in a family office is having a service mentality. Genuinely caring about the family’s goals and being willing to go above and beyond to achieve them is far more valuable than any technical skill.” – Brian Adams, Principal at Mack International.

 

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Strategies for effective recruitment

Effective recruitment strategies for family offices focus on creating a tailored approach that aligns with the unique needs and culture of the families they serve. Leveraging both internal networks and external recruitment sources ensures a diverse and highly qualified candidate pool. That may involve promoting from within to retain organisational knowledge and tapping into other professional networks to find outside candidates.

Another less well-known strategy is emphasising strong employer branding to attract individuals who align with the family office’s values and mission. In other words, what image comes to mind when thinking about a Wall Street banker? In the same way, the ideal candidate should embody the family office’s corporate culture.

By combining these strategies, family offices can develop a recruitment process that not only attracts top talent but also ensures a strong cultural fit.

Identifying talent needs


Identifying talent needs is a critical step in the recruitment process. It requires a clear understanding of the family office’s current and future needs, which may arise from different circumstances. For instance, is the family venturing into the digital assets industry, and is there a knowledge and skills gap to fill?

This means evaluating the current team’s capabilities against the family office’s strategic goals and pinpointing specific roles that need to be filled. By accurately identifying talent needs, family offices can focus their recruitment efforts on finding the necessary talent to support their long-term objectives.

Watch our Family Office Recruitment & Executive Search webinar on demand

Attractive job descriptions


Job descriptions should be clear, concise, and engaging. They should emphasise not only the responsibilities and qualifications required but also the unique aspects of the family office’s culture and benefits. Using inclusive language can attract a diverse range of candidates, additionally, including information about career growth opportunities and work-life balance can make the position more appealing.

Recruitment agencies and platforms


For discreet family offices, recruitment specialists bring specialised knowledge and extensive networks. They make excellent partners in identifying and approaching high-calibre global talent who may not be reachable through traditional methods.

While less discreet, online platforms can just be as effective. Family offices can cast a wider net and access a diverse pool of potential candidates or use advanced search and filtering tools, making it easier to find candidates who meet specific criteria. Combining the expertise of a recruiter with the reach of online platforms can optimise their recruitment efforts to secure the best talent.

How do family offices source new staff?


Family offices have several means to source new staff – in a poll to Simple’s family office community, most (32%) elect to work exclusively by word of mouth, rather than turn to recruitment agencies or executive searches.

Regional differences in family office recruitment

When hiring for family offices, regional differences can impact the strategies and outcomes of the recruiting process. For example, in the US, family offices often prioritise candidates with strong financial backgrounds and experience, reflecting the country’s focus on capital and investment management.

In contrast, Europeans tend to place a greater emphasis on candidates with a deep understanding of regulatory environments and compliance. And in Asia, cultural sensitivity and local market knowledge are highly valued as family offices navigate diverse business landscapes and family dynamics.

Additionally, the availability of talent and competitive compensation packages can vary widely by region. Understanding the differences between regions can improve recruitment efforts and form teams that work well together in those specific cultural contexts.

Trust and background checks

New hires must not only possess the necessary qualifications but also personify the values and integrity required in a family office environment. Dealing with substantial wealth and confidential information means all staff members to undergo thorough vetting. Building trust starts with a rigorous and comprehensive background check to authenticate candidates’ qualifications, employment history, and personal integrity.

Importance of trust in family office recruitment


Family offices often operate with a smaller, more intimate team, where each member plays a crucial role. As a result, any breaking of trust can have huge consequences, not only financially but also in terms of personal relationships and family dynamics. Selecting candidates who show integrity, discretion, and a strong ethical foundation can help establish trust from the onset.

Best practices for conducting background checks


Conducting thorough background checks typically involves
verifying qualifications, employment history, and professional licenses.

Checking references and calling previous employers to gain insights into the candidate’s reliability and work ethic can be extremely helpful.

Additionally, it’s important to conduct criminal background checks and credit history reviews, especially for positions involving financial management. Engaging third-party agencies that specialise in executive background checks is also recommended for adhering to these best practices.

Evaluating soft skills for family offices

Given the unique dynamics of family offices, where personal and professional lines often blur, soft skills are crucial in a potential candidate. In this highly flexible environment, the candidate aught to be an effective communicator, demonstrate teamwork, and handle sensitive matters adeptly.

“Attitude and client service experience come across almost immediately when you meet with a candidate. Family members want to feel good about the interactions with professionals in their office, so a positive and enthusiastic attitude goes a long way for family office professionals and is readily apparent in the interview process.” – Janet Arzt, Parere Advisory

 

What are key soft skills for family office staff to possess?


In a survey of Simple’s family office community, most (41%) respondents indicated that they saw adaptabiltiy as being the foremost soft skill for a family office employee to possess.

Interview process and candidate selection

The interview process for family offices should ensure candidates not only possess the required skills but also align with the family’s culture and values. A structured approach involving multiple interview rounds and relevant evaluations helps in finding the best fit.

Designing effective interview questions


What is the best way of designing effective interview questions? One approach, is the STAR method.

The STAR method advocates for behavioural interviewing to objectively measure a potential employee’s past behaviors as a predictor of future results.

Examples of behavioral interview questions include:

  • Tell me about a time when you worked as part of a team to successfully execute a project.
  • Do you have any experience with solving complex problems?
  • What is a project that you are most proud of?
  • Tell me about a time you failed.

 

Experts outline, however, that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to interviewing for family offices roles.

As Brian Adams offers, “At Mack International, we believe that there are no “standard” solutions. and view each search and consulting engagement as unique, with its own distinct characteristics and opportunities. We design each set of interview questions specifically for the role and family office we are working with.”

Final selection and offer process


Before making the final selection, it’s important to thoroughly review all interview feedback and assessment results in order to ensure that the best candidate is chosen. Once the top candidate is identified, it’s vital to have a swift and transparent offer process. This includes clearly outlining the benefits, compensation, and growth opportunities within the family office. Maintaining open communication throughout the offer process helps address any concerns and ensures a positive experience for the candidate.

Onboarding and integration

Onboarding should start before the new hire’s first day, a practice known as preboarding. This can include providing new employees with information about the company’s culture, organisational structure, and benefits ahead of time. Engaging new hires early helps them feel welcomed and prepared, which can increase their productivity and retention.

Ensuring smooth integration into the family office culture


Smooth integration into the family office culture is paramount, given the close-knit and often sensitive nature of these environments. According to SHRM, successful integration involves assigning mentors or buddies to new hires, which can help them navigate the office culture and build relationships more quickly. Additionally, providing clear communication about job roles and expectations and offering continuous support and training can significantly ease the transition.

“At Mack International, we work closely with the search committee to develop a plan for successfully onboarding and integrating new talent into their position within the family office. We remain an ongoing resource to their team to help ensure continued success.” – Brian Adams

Retention strategies for family offices

Retention strategies can vary signficantly across different family offices, but are usually comprised of offerings across compensation, work environment, career development, and recognition.

Compensation and benefits

 

  • Competitive salary and bonus structures: Offer salaries and bonuses reflecting experience, skills, and market value, with regular reviews.
  • Benefits packages: Provide comprehensive benefits including health insurance, retirement plans, paid time off, and wellness programs.

 

Work environment and culture

 

  • Positive and collaborative culture: Foster an environment where employees feel valued, respected, and heard.
  • Work-life balance: Offer flexible work arrangements and respect employee time outside of work.
  • Professional development: Provide training, conferences, and mentorship opportunities for skill development.
  • Meaningful work: Assign challenging tasks that align with the family office’s goals.

 

Growth and career development

 

  • Clear career path: Define clear career advancement paths and evaluation criteria.
  • Internal mobility: Encourage existing staff to apply for open positions within the family office.
  • Mentorship programmes: Implement programs where experienced staff mentor newer employees.

 

Recognition and appreciation

 

  • Regular feedback: Provide ongoing feedback and recognize achievements verbally and with awards.
  • Positive work environment: Celebrate successes and organize team-building activities.
  • Sense of belonging: Foster a sense of community through social events and team lunches.

Future trends in family office recruitment

Expected shifts in recruitment trends for family offices are likely to be shaped by a few important elements. These include the rising globalisation of the workforce, the demand for niche expertise, and a heightened focus on fostering diversity and inclusivity. As family offices expand internationally, there will be an increased need for individuals with skills to understand and engage cross-culturally and who can manage the complexities of global market landscapes.

Impact of technology on recruitment processes


Technology is changing how family offices recruit, making the process both quicker and more precise. By leveraging artificial intelligence (AI), the screening and selection of candidates have become more accurate at pinpointing the right individuals for specific roles. With automation, massive datasets from resumes, social media accounts, and other platforms can be sifted through to pick out potential candidates according to set standards. Moreover, the use of online tests and video interview platforms is now a common practice.

Evolving skill sets and role requirements


As the landscape of family offices evolves, so do the skill sets and role requirements for their staff. Traditional roles focused primarily on financial management are now expanding to include expertise in technology, cybersecurity, data analytics, and ESG investing.

“The growth in family offices, in general, will likely drive more searches in the future. We have already seen a significant increase in interest by at least investment professionals in the family office space, but the demand is not keeping up in the near term. This will likely change as the industry continues to grow and as families become larger and more complex, demanding more in-house talent.” – Janet Arzt

Final takeaways

In conclusion, effective recruitment for family offices hinges on understanding their unique needs and culture. Identifying specific talent needs and creating attractive job descriptions are crucial. Employing a mix of internal and external recruitment strategies, including leveraging recruitment agencies and online platforms, helps attract top talent that is aligned with the family office’s values and mission.

Given the intimate and confidential nature of family offices, thorough background checks and trust-building are essential. Evaluating soft skills, such as communication and cultural fit, ensures candidates can navigate the personal and professional dynamics unique to family offices.

Structured onboarding processes, clear communication, and fostering a positive work environment are key to retaining staff. Competitive compensation, career growth opportunities, and promoting work-life balance further enhance employee satisfaction and retention.

These insights provide a comprehensive roadmap for navigating the complexities of family office recruitment, ensuring a successful and sustainable hiring process.

 

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Q

What are the most important qualities to look for in family office staff?

A
Key qualities include discretion, expertise in financial management, strong communication skills, adaptability, and a deep understanding of the family's values and goals.
Q

How do regional differences impact family office recruitment?

A
Regional differences can affect recruitment through variations in financial regulations, availability of skilled professionals, cultural norms, and economic conditions specific to the location.
Q

How should you establish if a candidate is a cultural fit for a family office?

A
To determine cultural fit, assess alignment with the family's values during interviews, consider feedback from multiple team members, and evaluate the candidate's adaptability and interpersonal skills.

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