What Are Family Office Services?

Wealth management vs asset management vs investment management vs family office. In a similar dilemma we have two industry standards of Chartered Financial Analyst vs Certified Financial Planner. What are the differences amongst them? What comprises family office services, and why are they so vital to your success? 

It’s about the long haul

Investment management is fortunately as it sounds, the management of investments for typically shorter-term horizons. For example, to reach a major spending target within five calendar years. Asset management is the institutional side of that coin. Wealth is the other individual side, the you side. 

Family office belongs to an entirely separate coin, or category rather—the family. The time horizon, if done right, is in the hundreds of years. How will my children’s children be affected by my decision today to sell this subsidiary of my business, and in what ways can I best manage the proceeds for this sheer breadth of time? Inherent in the answer is: estate planning, trust vehicles, alternative investments, private ventures, with likely a minority only dedicated to public financial markets.


Meaning, the widespread availability of algorithmic investment managers for the benefit of everyone at the cost of less than a penny on the dollar. According to Statista, there is nearly 1 trillion USD in assets under management for those robo-advisors like Wealthfront, Betterment, Acorns, Stash, and so on. Within four years from today, that number is expected to be 2.5 trillion USD, which is more than eight times what we had in 2017.  


 Naturally, the count of ‘users’ (clients) of robo-advisors will grow from 42.8 million to 436.3 million by 2024, a ten times increase. 


In order for wealth managers to consider themselves ‘wealth managers’ like the prestigious Coutts & Co of old, they must absolutely have family office services. Investment management services are now fully democratised and do not warrant high (or even medium) annual fees.

Breaking it down

Full-service is a great phase to start with. In the past, extremely wealthy families hired personal financial advisors for their own private benefit…thus earning the name, family office. The democratisation wave continues here too. If we review the 2020 Global Family Office Report by UBS, we note that 69% (see chart below) of all family offices surveyed were founded after the year 2000. Also more than two-thirds of family offices were from Europe, Middle East and Africa (where robo-advisory is popular). Something of a vogue effect, but putting this into the proper context of robo-democratisation we clearly find that family offices are being founded in response to a demand for something more than passive investment management. 

Source: Global Family Office Report 2020, UBS

Multi-generational estate planning

According to UBS, 48% of family offices support two generations of a family. Estate planning is a professional term for death and taxes. But things which are inevitable must be handled well; there is no excuse for the certain. Deltec Bank & Trust has over 70 years of experience in establishing trusts, and The Bahamas is a globally regarded jurisdiction for asset protection. The statute of limitation for this type of Bahamian trust is only two years so long as the settlor had no intent to defraud. 


A word not typically associated with wealth management, but vital to the higher-level quality of a family office. Financial planners must know when to take out insurance for families, for what risks, and what are fair premiums. Going beyond life, auto, yacht, property, et cetera, access to customised captive insurance policies may be necessary. Especially so, if the client’s business is global and has significant tail risks. Relm of Deltec International Group is equipped just for this purpose. 

Alternative investments

In our digital century of massive fiat currency stimuli (and inflation), this is the holy grail of investment returns. In the same UBS report, 69% of family offices view private equity as the key driver of returns. Historically, there is the well-known concept of ‘10x’ in the world of private equity. Meaning, private stakeholders sell their stakes when they have already earned ten times their original investment. This is how the rich get richer. Not only must access be given to real estate opportunities, but family offices should provide a pipeline of available private investments or deals. Deltec Partners of Deltec International Group provides access to their pipeline in the world’s fastest growing continent, Africa. 


It needs a heading of its own for it requires thorough knowledge of blockchain. While eloquently summarised in Satoshi Nakamoto’s whitepaper for Bitcoin in 2008, blockchain takes months, perhaps years, to master. What are the best currencies today? Why is Bitcoin’s price so high? Whose reason for being, or ‘proof-of’ consensus, is best? Cryptocurrency is a field in its own right. Deltec uniquely has the capability to answer these questions.

Lifestyle management

Virtues and vices. This is the honorable yet rare study of how to effectively answer philanthropic needs. Which causes are truly serving their missions? What is the most tax effective way of giving, in a global context? On the other hand, who can we trust to manage high-ticket, luxury property items, such as third homes or sailing yachts? Come talk to us. 


Here’s an interesting meditation: the average family net worth of those surveyed is 1.6 billion USD (according to UBS’s report). Simply because most family offices are less than 20 years old, does not mean the money is not yet there. We can say it has been dormant. Effectively managing family wealth requires a holistic view that honestly makes full use of the word, holistic. As the saying already goes, no two family offices are alike. What would you like to do for your legacy? 

Disclaimer: The author of this text, Jean Chalopin, is a global business leader with a background encompassing banking, biotech and entertainment. Mr. Chalopin is Chairman of Deltec International Group,

The co-author of this text, Conor Scott, has been active in the international private banking industry since 2012, focusing on relationship management, investment advisory and research. Mr. Scott is a Business Development Analyst at Deltec International Group,

The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this text are solely the views of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect those of Deltec International Group, its subsidiaries, and/or its employees.