An Introduction to a Family Office


What is a Family Office?

A family office is a private wealth management firm that is set up and run by a high net worth family to manage their financial affairs. The family office can be set up as a trust, corporation or partnership.

Purpose of Setting up a Family Office

There are many reasons why wealthy families choose to set up a family office. Some of the most common reasons include:

  • A family office can help wealthy families maintain control over their finances and make sure that their assets are managed in a way that is aligned with their goals.
  • A family office can assist with succession planning and estate planning by providing a framework for these activities. It may also aid in the transfer of assets to future generations in a tax efficient manner.
  • A well-run family office can improve family governance by providing greater transparency and accountability.
  • A family office can play an important role in philanthropy by providing the resources and expertise necessary to identify charitable organizations that align with the family's values and objectives and provide the necessary support to help them achieve their goals.
  • Many families are also turning to the family office to outsource certain activities in order to focus on their core operations.

Issues to Consider

Setting up a family office can be a complex process, and there are a number of key issues that must be considered in order to ensure its success.

First, it is important to clearly define the goals and objectives of the family office. What services does it need to provide and and whether they can be adequately provided by an existing firm or institution? What is the family's long-term vision?

Second, they must decide who will oversee the family office and how family members will be involved in its operations. It is important to select the right team of professionals to manage the family office. This team should have experience in the areas of investments, wealth planning, and family dynamics.

Next, the family must consider the right structure for the family office, which can be trust-based or company-based structures.

Finally, they must evaluate the costs (including tax costs) and benefits of setting up a family office and determine whether it is the right decision for their family.

By carefully considering these issues, families can ensure that their family office meets their needs and provides them with the support they need to maintain their wealth and lifestyle

Risks of Using a Family Office

There are some potential downside risks to using a family office, such as the high cost of setting up and maintaining the office, the potential for conflict within the family, and the risk that the asset holdings may be concentrated in one location. However, these risks can be mitigated through careful planning and by seeking advice from experts in this field.

For example, potential conflicts could be managed by setting out a family charter. A family charter is a document that outlines the family's values, goals, and expectations for family members. The charter should be created with input from all family members, and it should be reviewed and updated on a regular basis. The family charter can help to provide clarity and structure for family members, and it can help to guide decision-making in the family office.

The charter can also help to prevent disagreements and conflict within the family, as it can provide a clear framework for resolving disputes. Ultimately, the family charter can help to ensure that the family office is run in a way that aligns with the family's values and goals.

Choosing a Location for the Family Office

When setting up a family office, there are a number of factors to consider in choosing a location or jurisdiction.

One important factor is the regulatory environment in which the family office will operate. The family office must comply with all applicable laws and regulations, and it is important to choose a location that has a favourable regulatory regime.

Another important factor to consider is the tax environment. The family office should choose a jurisdiction that has favourable tax laws, incentives and tax treaty agreements.

Finally, it is also important to consider the availability of skilled personnel. The family office will need access to accountants, lawyers, and other professionals who can provide advice and support.

By taking all of these factors into account, the family office can choose a location or jurisdiction that is well-suited.

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Singapore as a Wealth Management Hub

In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of high net worth families setting up family offices in Singapore.

There are many reasons why setting up a family office in Singapore is advantageous for high net worth families. Some of the important reasons include the following:

  • The Singapore government offers attractive tax incentives for family offices.
  • Singapore has a well-developed infrastructure and legal system that is conducive to businesses.
  • Singapore has a stable political environment and a well-regulated financial system.
  • There are many experienced wealth management professionals in Singapore who can provide high-quality services to family offices.

As more high net worth families choose to set up family offices in Singapore, it is likely that the city-state will become an even more popular jurisdiction for family offices.

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Alfred Cheong Crowe Singapore
Alfred Cheong
Deputy Chief Executive Officer
Crowe Singapore
Sivakumar Saravan Crowe Singapore
Sivakumar Saravan
Senior Partner
Tax and Corporate Services
Tony Tan Crowe Singapore
Tony Tan
Senior Partner
Outsourcing and Fund Administration