A haven for HNWI: Why Australia is ideal for family offices

Down under, far from geopolitical tensions, Australia's relatively secretive family offices have been experiencing significant growth over the past decade. This article explores why Australia is ideal for family offices and highlights some of the country's most prominent ones.
family offices in australia

What you need to know

  • Australia’s exceptional living standards rank 4th place globally. And its distance from geopolitical hotspots makes it an ideal destination for family offices.
  • Its legal system allows for various family office structures. Notably, the Significant Investor Stream visa is an excellent pathway for HNWI seeking residency.
  • Australia’s open and stable economy has strong connections worldwide, particularly with the fast-growing Asia-Pacific region.
Jurisdictions Updated on December 23, 2023

Australia seems to fly under the radar. Yet, it’s one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Also known as the “Lucky Country,” the Great Outback is a land of economic opportunity and bountiful natural resources. According to a recent survey, the family office sector in the country now employs between 10,000 and 20,000 individuals, more than double the number of employees recorded a decade ago. Below, let’s take a look at factors influencing this boom.

Open, stable and global economy

The Why Australia Benchmark Report 2023 highlights why the country is a leading destination for start-ups, research organisations, and multinationals worldwide. It’s honed its reputation as an open, prosperous, and innovative economy in which to do business. This year, the country’s economy is expected to grow by 1.6% – continuing to outpace other advanced economies, averaging 1.3%%.

Australia’s economy also boasts worldwide connections, including strong ties to the fast-growing Asia-Pacific region. Although it has been predominantly known for its mining and agricultural sectors, its tech industry is rapidly expanding and is one of the largest in the southern hemisphere. Many groundbreaking innovations were incubated in Australia, including Google Maps, Wi-Fi, the black box flight recorder, and the Cochlear implant. The country is now focusing on becoming a major player in renewable energy, with plenty of critical minerals, wind, hydrogen, and solar industries driving its transition to clean energy.

Legislation and immigration

Australia’s legal system combines common law and statute, similar to the United Kingdom’s. Although no specific legislation exists for family offices, they can have various structures, such as a company, partnership, trust, or an individual controlling person. However, regardless of the structure, family offices must comply with general regulatory requirements, including the Know Your Client and Anti-Money Laundering regulations. Employment law regulations will also apply if staff are employed.

For families desiring to migrate to Australia, various visas are available to suit their needs, including short-term, long-term, skilled, sponsored, business, investment, and working holiday visas. It is important to note that the eligibility criteria for each visa category may differ. For example, individuals who invest at least AUD 5 million in Australian investments that meet specific requirements and maintain investment activity in the country may be eligible to apply for a ‘Significant Investor Stream‘ visa. This visa permits them to carry out investment activity, stay in Australia for up to 5 years, and bring eligible family members with them.

High standard of living

Australia is ranked 4th in terms of countries with the highest living standards. It is a liberal and multicultural society, welcoming people from all cultures, races, faiths, and nations. Well-developed and regulated professional and business services and infrastructures, typically required by a family office, are widely accessible. Additionally, it has a stable banking system with many international banks represented.

Australia is attracting a highly-skilled, international, multilingual workforce into the family office space. In fact, compared to their peers in similar roles worldwide, family office employees in Australia receive higher compensation and benefits.

Attractive to HNWI

According to reports by Henley & Partners, Australia is set to become the most preferred destination for High Net Worth Individuals (HNWI) by 2023, overtaking Singapore. It is estimated that this year alone, around 122,000 millionaires will migrate, with a majority coming from China, India, and the UK. There are several reasons why Australia is the preferred destination for millionaires.

Firstly, the country offers a pleasant climate, a high-quality lifestyle, and exceptional education and healthcare facilities. Additionally, unlike the UK and the USA, Australia does not impose inheritance taxes or death duties, which is a significant advantage for the wealthy. Moreover, Australia’s distance from global crisis hotspots makes it an even more appealing location for millionaires to settle down.

The largest family offices in Australia

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