What is a family office?
“Family offices are typically viewed as being somewhat of an enigma” – Preqin Family Offices Survey 2010.
Although the concept of a family office has been in place for centuries, the modern understanding of a family office can be attributed to JP Morgan and JD Rockefeller.
While each family office is considered to be unique (in their source/category, size, structure, strategy), they do share many qualities with respect to working practices;
The notion of a family office is attributed to any group of professionals (who can be legal, tax, investment, concierge, estate planning, charitable giving advice, etc) who provide professional and/or personal dedicated services to a family.
Family office characteristics
One can categorise family offices in
1. Single-family offices (traditional family office) (SFO)
Citi private bank and Union bank place the number of single-family offices around the world to an estimated 10,000 (with about 6,000 in the US according to Deloitte) who serve families with more than 200m USD.
2. Multifamily offices (MFO)
These perform most functions of a single-family office serving a limited number of families (usually for assets more than 20m)
3. Outsourced family office
This is basically a cooperation of the different professionals (ie: legal, tax, investment etc) who are not under the same roof/structure
There is no specific structure/model used for family offices with various options being used:
- Private family trust companies
- Family investment companies
- Investment funds
- Holding companies limited by guarantee
Benefits of a family office compared to other models
Family offices, going from outsourced to MFO, to SFO have increased benefits on each step-up.
It is built around the family’s needs whatever they may be (hence the uniqueness of each family office)
It provides a dedicated team of highly skilled professionals who have the time to obtain a deeper understanding of the family’s needs, risk tolerance and other investment principles of the family’s wealth.
Confidential and private information is only shared by a small group of individuals who work for the company.
There is more control of the assets and investments making it easier to limit risk exposure in all aspects (tax/legal/financial etc)
It provides the owners with time to carry on with their daily lives knowing that all their affairs (personal, family wealth, family succession and others) are handled by this specialised group of people.
Family office jurisdiction considerations
Due to its perpetuity, a family office (MFO/SFO) is never actually a single office or building and may span more than one country depending on the needs of the family.
The main office selection is a complex and challenging exercise taking into account factors such as availability of a skilled workforce and professional services, regulatory and tax framework, political stability, immigration rules and cultural aspects amongst others.
Cyprus as an ideal location for a family office
Cyprus ticks all the aforementioned “consideration” boxes that a family needs to take into account before taking the next step in their family planning.
As an EU member, Cyprus follows EU directives and OECD guidance and has a wide range of Double tax Treaty Network as well as numerous corporate and individual tax incentives, with its legal and tax system modelled on the English and common law system.
Having the 2nd highest tertiary educational attainment rate in the EU makes it very easy to find highly skilled professionals both in terms of management and attaining high-quality professional services.
How we can help
At Kreston Ioannou & Theodoulou we understand that family offices must be designed based on the specific needs, circumstances and concerns of the families they serve.
Our multidisciplinary team can assist in the design of the structure that fits the specific family needs and provide ongoing support to the family office for example for asset protection, succession planning, family governance, tax planning and more. Our team is here to help you.