Regenerating returns

The new Global Family Office Report 2017 is the world’s leading analysis and benchmark for

investments, costs, and philanthropy in the family office community.

Alexandra Newlove examines how bolder investments, the rising stock in human capital, and the advancement of succession planning are the sparks reigniting the sector


amily offices have roared back to life in the past 12 months after a lacklustre 2015 saw returns almost stutter to standstill. Growth is a key theme in the Global Family Office Report 2017 (GFOR), with returns

back to health and family offices expanding in size, complexity, and portfolio value, alongside a shift toward growth-orientated investment. In this special 10-page feature on the report, we

break down the key findings and trends around investment approach, human capital, and succession, supported by expert commentary on this discreet but fast-growing wealth sector. Lastly, we look forward to the opportunities and challenges for family offices in 2018. Campden Wealth’s annual GFOR was first published

in 2013 with UBS, which remains a partner in the project today. It is the culmination of months of work by Campden researchers, who begin the next year’s report as the ink dries on the current year’s version. The 2017 iteration has seen 2016 calendar year data

analysed from a record 262 family offices from around the world. Researchers also conducted 25 qualitative interviews with family office principals, executives, and advisers, to better understand the shifts observed in the quantitative data.


Sara Ferrari, head of global family offices at UBS,

says demand for the research grows each year, with it being the most comprehensive study of its kind, supported by a large sample and wide geographical reach. Today, Campden Wealth estimates there are 5,300 family offices in existence around the world— including single family offices and private multi family offices. So what did the GFOR 2017 reveal? The study’s average family office portfolio of $921

million assets under management returned a relatively healthy 7% in 2016, compared with 2015’s meagre 0.3% average return. Equities and private equity were two of the main

forces driving performance, with these asset classes continuing to be favoured, making up a combined 47% of portfolios. Meanwhile, the performance of hedge funds and

real estate was more subdued, and their popularity among family offices declined accordingly. Allocations to hedge funds decreased 1% to 6% among multi-year participants, while real estate saw a slim decline of 1%—though it maintains its status as a significant asset class accounting for 16% of the average portfolio. Other key findings include a trend toward millennial-

driven impact investing, along with strong commitment to philanthropy, and an ongoing slowness among


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