The rise in family offices in Asia has led to a demand for training new entrants into the industry. However, to add value, training must go beyond the purely financial.
One such training course is the Henley Family Office Programme. Anna Stephenson, co-founder of Inflection Point Intelligence Limited which curates the programme, explained to Asian Private Banker why there is a need for family office training now, and why the course covers everything from divorce to death to kidnap risk and even wayward children.
“Lots of people in Hong Kong said to us: Please create a course on family offices. And we said: Why do you want family office training? And they said, well, the jobs in brokerages, the sell side jobs are disappearing. There is a lot more automation. The jobs for junior people are being replaced by the internet and by technology. And there is a lot of money moving into wealth management now. So a lot of people want to transition over from the sell side to the buy side,” she said.
Beyond the financial
Learning about how things operate in a family office requires a very different mindset and way of thinking, Stephenson explained. “Things like investing in art, jewellery and classic cars, as well as concierge services. So if you’ve got five family homes around the world, who’s looking after them? And who’s making sure that the insurance is done?” she asked. “Lots of interesting stuff that people who just worked in a regular bank have never really thought about.”
For the Henley Family Office Programme, they engaged IQ-EQ, which has a specialist team in Jersey that covers cars and aviation, to provide a course on classic cars and jewellery. “One of the interesting things about buying cars or watches or art is that you have the same issues that you have with ordinary assets, like how do you trade it? How do you buy the thing? How do you know it’s real?” she said.
The programme also covers personal issues such as divorce and children, which present their own unique challenges. “What happens if there is a divorce? How should the employees deal with that? Do you work for both of the principals? Do you work for one of them?” Stephenson asked.
The training also extends to what to do with recalcitrant children. “What if your children are a little bit wayward? What kind of help is available to deal with that? Cyber risk, if your kids are posting on TikTok, or whatever, there is a whole other set of risks associated with that,” she added.
“Nobody really wants to talk about death. But what if the principal dies? Who can make a decision?” she said. “If you’ve got property abroad, do you have a second will for the country where the property is? Because you probably need that.”
Family office work also means that professionals will encounter risks beyond investment risks, Stephenson explained. “The Risk Planning and Crisis Management module is about: what are the risks faced by family offices? There are things which are not regular financial risks, like kidnap risk,” Stephenson noted.
Next generation training
For training the family’s next generation, Stephenson believes that their programme takes them through everything that they are going to encounter when they interact with their own family’s family office.
“It really introduces all the concepts for them and makes them understand their own position better. And the mechanics of it is not just about how are you going to spend the money. It’s what business sense do you have to run this thing properly?” she said.
As Hong Kong is positioned to be a hub for digital assets, some family offices are also eyeing investments in crypto-currencies.”We are probably going to do a short course on managing digital assets. Because we know that family offices are now slowly dipping their toes into that,” Stephenson said.
“So we are not teaching people about what is a cryptocurrency and how do algorithms work and so on, but we are saying, what do you need to do to manage your digital asset portfolio? How do you trade it? How do you get market access? What’s the credit risk? What’s the compliance issues? What’s the tax or custody implications of owning that? So we will be developing that later this year,” she noted.