Family-Office Professionals, What’s the Next Best Thing to Being Batman?

Being Batman’s Batman!

 

“Why do we fall, sir? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up.”

Though surely not moviedom’s most popular line, it should come as no surprise to learn that it was said by Alfred – Bruce Wayne’s protective butler.

But there was always more to Alfred than meets the eye. Before decamping to Wayne Manor, this fictional paragon of the loyal steward was a classically trained actor and SAS operative, the British equivalent of a Navy Seal. It’s no wonder he was Batman’s batman: Remarkably clear-eyed. Cool under pressure. Strategically minded. And technologically adept. Qualities he used to manage a high net-worth family; a family of one, but unfathomably complex.

Every ‘Pennyworth’ service.

From investment advice, property buying, and estate management to bookkeeping and tax planning, the family-office professional delivers a vast array of services.

Your expertise puts you in a unique position: As an independent advisor, you are an outsider to the family. Yet, you sit at the decision-making table, leading the search for balance by preserving the family’s wealth as it pursues its varied goals.

You are strategic. Unflappable. And if you’re among the profession’s finest, you manage an office that is technologically advanced. You are Alfred at his indispensable best – a distinction you make evident on three fronts of family-office management:

Managing Gotham.

Millennials’ attendance in the Board Rooms is rising. They bring their values and investment philosophies, such as ESG. These philosophies may need to be mapped to the stated goals of the family.

Family office professionals need people skills to identify these potential ideological differences successfully. As an objective third party, you need to grasp multiple perspectives and bridge differences between them. Regular communication can balance the family’s personal and financial harmony.

Discovering the ‘Bat-Cave’

Family offices offer limited upskilling and networking opportunities. However, it is crucial to broaden your knowledge and cultivate a peer group. Relationships with other professionals help to manage the risk profiles of the family office portfolio. They can fill gaps in your knowledge of an asset class and provide information on investment or partnership opportunities in an otherwise secretive industry.

Every family member may not be well-versed with the diverse financial instruments available to invest in. It often falls on you to coach them through the process while keeping a view of the overarching investment strategy.

Scouting ‘Lucius Fox’ for Wayne Enterprises.

Principals need to look at their returns from different angles—by asset class, geography, liquidity, and entity-levels. Families can make smart decisions if they can drill into specifics and step back and take a comprehensive view. With the right technology solutions, you can create such custom reports on-demand and back your expertise with reliable financial data.

For example, the family principal may seek your advice on investing surplus funds in real estate when the market prices are low. Based on your expertise with the market, you feel that a stock portfolio might be a better alternative. The portfolio offers higher returns as well as liquidity. Tools for benchmarking and projections can help you present a persuasive argument.

How to juggle all these high-stakes responsibilities?

Here’s a better question: Why juggle them at all? With technology that creates transparency even as the financial pie divides – even as families spread more funds across multiple institutions and invest more across all asset classes – lurching from one challenge to the next will become a thing of the past.

Add the ability to report performance inside the general ledger, and the “Alfred” in you will see risks and opportunities in time to do something about them.


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