The common IT challenges for family offices and how an IT partner can assist

As family offices become more digitally-minded, the more vulnerable they become to digital attacks. This piece explores the ways in which family offices are exposed to cyber threats and some of the common challenges they face in the digital world, as well as how they can overcome them.
family office cyber security

What you need to know

  • The typical family office in the ANZ region ranges in size between 2 members to 25+ family members, executives, and staff. When it comes to digitising family office operations, the following tend to be the most common IT challenges in both the single family office and multi-family offices:
  • Family members and staff without the bandwidth and time are responsible for addressing IT support tasks and managing the IT Infrastructure, which requires a specialist skillset. Generally, the family members and executives need fast, definitive solutions to their IT needs at the time, on the first call.
  • Short-term “fixes” are commonly put into place, and before long, major parts of the IT infrastructure at the office, homes, etc. become a myriad of organically grown systems cobbled together that usually “just work”, but not as well as they could, and potentially with security vulnerabilities “designed in.”
  • Whilst the family office itself may have a one-person IT organisation supporting them, often the family IT devices that are outside of the office, such as the family home, holiday houses, and mobile devices are not managed and are left exposed. Often where there is a connected operating business, the corporate IT provider is providing services to the Family Office, and often they are applying the same corporate policies as the corporate entity that seldomly suit the requirements of the family.
Cyber Security Updated on January 16, 2024

The typical family office in the ANZ region ranges in size between 2 members to 25+ family members, executives, and staff. When it comes to digitising family office operations, there are a number of IT challenges in both single and multi-family offices.

Top-of-mind issues for family offices

When looking to tackle the most common IT challenges, family offices should consider looking for a solution that takes the following into account.

Outsourced IT

Single family office principals and multi-family office CEOs want to know that all their technology is “fully outsourced to someone else” and not something that they must think about, whether it is the devices in the family office, private homes, holiday homes, or the investment platforms and other software.

Data & cyber security

With the number of international cyber criminals increasing both in number and intelligence, international travel, and remote working on the rise, family offices, their homes, and their family are at ever-increasing risk. Cyber-attacks are now more sophisticated, where seldomly attacks are random, we now see hackers actively targeting family office principals and family office C-level staff. All too often, ANZ family offices rely on cyber security insurance or engaging a cyber response professional after an incident has occurred.

Portfolio management and investment platforms

The secret to family office-managed IT success is ensuring that as the CEO or CFO, you always have access whilst ensuring consistent delivery of data to your investment platforms. More often these days, with increased remote working, clients require the use of portfolio management software on a desktop that is outside the security boundary of the family office.

A holistic well-managed IT environment significantly reduces the risks. Proactive preparation and active management mean you’re more likely to be in front of any attacks, rather than a victim of an attack with the potential loss of finances, investment positions and strategy, or worse, family photos and confidential family information.

A tailored approach specifically designed to meet the unique needs of family offices is what is required.

This is quite different to a single-person IT provider that tends to service family offices on an ad hoc approach. Find a provider who understands your problem, with specialised experience in addressing them and who offers a single point of contact for your family office, on standby to assist with any security requirements at any time, regardless of where you are in the world.

family office cyber security

Proactive preparation and active management mean you’re more likely to be in front of any attacks, rather than a victim.

How a service provider can act as a Chief Technology Officer for family offices.

The right kind of partner can act as a Chief Technology Officer to family office boards on behalf of clients. This enables the family to access experienced experts to engage on various topics related to technology.

Managed IT

A ‘Managed IT’ model caters for a raft of accessibility scenarios to mitigate the ever-growing risks for families – whether it be family members working from multiple locations, travelling to remote parts of the country or to overseas locations. It has been designed to take as much load off the busy family members as possible, by providing not only proactive advice and solutions to lessen any productivity impact but also by providing support when needed, in a time-efficient manner required by a time-poor executive or other family members.

Build secure, manage secure

Often, family offices prefer to have their IT environments rebuilt and managed securely from the start, to ensure historic issues and unknowns are removed. No one wants the embarrassment or impact of dealing with a breach or Disaster Recovery type event caused by a cyber-attack, it’s vital to implement best practices and ongoing management to ensure the systems stay the way they were built.

Cybersecurity awareness and training for family offices

In this world of ever-increasing cyber threats, the ideal provider should be able to offer family offices both “off-the-shelf” and bespoke solutions, to help deal with evolving threats and increase the security of their infrastructure. Equally important, is the knowledge and efficiency of their people in dealing with these threats to avoid problems to begin with. These are tailored specifically to the time-constrained family patriarch/matriarch, other family members, and office staff.

Disaster recovery and business continuity

These days with the proliferation of viruses, and common malware attacks that can result in your files becoming encrypted (and no longer accessible), Disaster Recovery (DR) and Business Continuity (BC) can assist family offices with recovering from these types of events without the multitude of issues caused if any ransom is paid to the attacker.

About the Authors

Mark O'Malley

Mark O'Malley

IT & Secruity

Mark educates and advises Asia-Pacific Family Offices and their operating businesses to protect their family members and staff using sustainable, managed IT and security solutions.

Connect with Mark O'Malley

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