Main Topics Tabled At 2019 Family Office Events

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Preparations are well underway for ensuing family office conference season. With organizers working harder than ever to attract the top families to their events, the topics around family office insights and discussion have become progressively important. In general, there is a definite shift from pure investment topics to focusing more closely on purpose and values as families attending these events start to move more towards the soft asset topics.

Shift from pure investment to softer and abstract issues.

Firstly, family offices and Ultra-High-Net-Worth Individuals (UHNWIs) are in the driving seat when it comes to shaping the world’s landscape, both today and into the future.

According to Zita Nikoletta Verbenyi, managing director at Prestel & Partner who run six forums annually for their global family office network “Family offices have their finger on the pulse of most of the world’s innovative social, cultural, technological, and economic modification. With all the converging horizons within the completely different fields, there’s a growing need for a collective, agile approach, and exchange of concepts, valuable experience, and distinctive experiences to tackle unprecedented opportunities besides their challenges.”

On a macro-level, this modification is driven not solely by economic factors but also by social and cultural shifts paired with fast technological development. However, this modification also originates within the internal environment of those family businesses, with Next Generation family members stepping up and into their roles as the leaders of tomorrow. These leaders, taking cues from the millennial mentality, need to bring this new mode of thinking into their families, however,  but must accomplish this while avoiding the appearance of naiveté in their suggestions.

With this huge transition within the already ever-changing family office landscape, there are huge amounts of family office insights that may be gained and delicate exchanges that are very important and need to happen on the most crucial topics. These might vary from family-only talks and discussions between family offices, UHNWIs, and their advisers.

A number of the key topics known for this season are as follows:

1. The Future

Devise sustainable governance models, operational efficiency, succession planning, cyber security, and other forward-looking solutions and structures that will future-proof your office.

2. Values

Values are essential in themselves and can also induce agility, encouraging family engagement, alternative education, reverse innovation, and other salutary developments.

3. Purpose and Impact

Many concerns fall under this ambit, including climate change action, inclusive investing, social entrepreneurship and sustainable businesses. Driven largely by next generation family office members the agenda is to achieve excellent returns while making a desirable impact.

4. Technology

Technology is increasingly essential to family offices in a variety of ways, ranging from life sciences, genomics, Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, and more. Adopting this is important not only in practical- but also in ethical terms.

5. Transparency

There are many facets to Transparency, ranging from questions of how to reclaim and monetize our data, social contracts, the journey and power of consent, the tackling of fake news, and more.

6. Region-specific topics

Another exciting development in the field of event programming is the rise of events focused more closely around regional topics. Global family office insights are always valuable, but those with a specific local focus have become increasingly relevant.

According to David Grammig from the Grammig Advisory, who also heads 5 annual events for Alea Group including the new EastMed FO Exchange, “Most conferences put their attention on Asset Protection, the EastMed FO Exchange will speak at length about Asset Accessibility.”

This focus makes for a strong case, and families in countries that experienced capital market controls (Cyprus and Greece) or economies where the value of the local currencies diminishes daily (Turkey) face this more and more often. It is therefore essential not merely to discuss wealth preservation and asset protection, but also to make those discussions available to all.

“The freedom of capital movement is one of the four fundamental freedoms underlying the mechanism of the EU internal market, as well as the ability to do business internationally.” Grammig continues.

Finding fit

These events are all active in surveying what their attendees want. Prospective attendees should enter into dialogues with organizers around the topics that are of interest to you.

Event organizer Campden Conferences incorporates both research and publishing divisions and has 9 events coming up this year so they have access to the very latest and most comprehensive family office intelligence, but their statistics and case studies only go so far. It is essential for any producer in any industry to engage with all stakeholders of an event (delegates, previous speakers, sponsors, etc.) to learn how individuals and families are applying their perspective to addressing these challenges.

According to Peter Newton, Conference director at Campden, “Keeping very close to your audience is crucial; knowing what keeps them awake a night is essential to delivering the right content.”

Once your audience is engaged, through whichever medium you are employing, you can then build on networking, meeting, doing business, and other essential tasks.

Most families, even if they have their peer networks, require some level of external support from advisors, service providers, or practitioners in order to gain Family Office Insights

Verbenyi adds “There is, however, still a palpable disconnection and lack of trust between families, UHNWIs and the various other players in the family office arena. Understanding each other, the needs and expectations from the families’ or other wealth holder’s side are crucial. There is a great need, therefore for well-curated discussions, which provide opportunities to explore multiple perspectives.”


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