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The rise of the virtual family office

The use of a family office as a vehicle for wealth preservation has been steadily growing.  Family offices typically take one of two forms: single-family offices (SFOs), which are established to serve one family exclusively, and multi-family offices (MFOs), which manage the wealth of several families and often provide ancillary services. 

Because the bespoke services offered by a single-family office can be very costly, relatively few families can afford to establish and run these types of organisations.  The cost of running a basic family office is often in excess of 1.5% of assets under management (AUM). 

Enter the virtual family office (VFO). This is a single-family office that uses a greater and more nuanced degree of outsourcing to reduce operational costs and increase flexibility.  By using a decentralised, technology-driven strategy to wealth management, VFOs can keep costs down whilst optimising efficiency (and by extension, profitability).   

Further, in addition to investment, wealth management and support services, VFOs can very easily support non-traditional services and the management of soft assets.  This could include for example the use of lifestyle managers, reputation managers, family dynamics consultants, and digital transformation specialists.

Virtualisation, alongside the increasing use of data and digital functionality and services, is vital to future-proofing the family office. This has never been more apparent than now, when advisers must manage complex relationships remotely, and at a time when investors everywhere face significant challenges.

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