Largest Family Offices
In case you aren’t familiar with family offices, these entities serve as advisory firms to provide private wealth management services to investors that fall in the ultra-high-net-worth category. These firms differ from the traditional wealth management firm because they typically focus on providing financial and investment management for a wealthy individual or family, rather than a long list of clients.
What Is a Family Office?
These offices typically offer various services, including insurance, tax services, charitable giving, wealth transfer, budgeting and assistance with family-owned businesses.
Many of these types of firms have just one office, serving one ultra-affluent client family. Others, however, serve multiple families, and may even have more than one office. Firms of this size start to more closely resemble the traditional type of private wealth management firm.
These family offices may provide other services for the families, including arrangements for travel, private schooling, and handling of other household appointments or necessities. These firms often bring together a team of professionals to work with the families, including those from insurance, legal, estate, investment, tax, and business disciplines, to provide the level of expertise, advice, and resources necessary.
In addition, some of these firms offer lifestyle management services, which includes handling more personal affairs such as managing an aircraft or yacht, providing personal security while traveling or at home, and conducting background checks for business and personal staff.
The following list, compiled by Bloomberg, highlights the top 20 Family Offices in terms of the amount of money under management. Most have their offices in the U.S., but the list does include a few global firms among those that are multi-family offices.
Each line of the below list shows a numerical rank, the amount of assets managed (in $billions), the firm’s name and location(s), the number of families managed and the rank change from Bloomberg’s previous year’s survey.
2018 Top 20 Richest Family Offices
Rank, Assets ($Billions), Firm Name & Location --- (# of Families / YoY Change)
1) $137.3 HSBC Private Wealth Solutions, Hong Kong (340 / +11)
2) $112.0 Northern Trust, Chicago (3,457 / +23)
3) $77.9 Bessemer Trust, New York ( >2,200 / +25)
4) $76.0 BNY Mellon Wealth Management, New York (400 / +18)
5) $57.3 Pictet, Geneva (>50 / +0)
6) $47.5 UBS Global Family Office, Zurich, London, Singapore, Hong Kong, NY (NA / +27)
7) $35.0 CTC Consulting/Harris MyCFO (BMO Financial) , Chicago (312 / +6)
8) $32.2 Abbot Downing (Wells Fargo), Minneapolis (594 / +5)
9) $31.1 U.S. Trust (Bank of America), New York (162 / +5)
10) $24.6 Wilmington Trust (M&T Bank), Wilmington, Delaware (436 / -23)
11) $23.1 Hawthorn (PNC Financial), Philadelphia (>580 / +8)
11) $23.1 (Tie) Rockefeller & Co., New York (259 / +10)
13) $21.4 Glenmede, Philadelphia (211 / +7)
14) $19.5 Atlantic Trust (Invesco), Atlanta (2,296 / +9)
15) $15.8 GenSpring Family Offices (Affiliate of Suntrust Banks), Jupiter, FL (442 / -5)
16) $11.3 Veritable, Newtown Square, PA (203 / +10)
17) $10.6 Silvercrest Asset Management, New York (365 / +4)
18) $10.4 Oxford Financial Group, Carmel, IN (232 / +3)
19) $8.9 Whittier Trust, South Pasadena, CA (290 / +16)
20) $8.8 Commerce Family Office, St. Louis ( 79 / +35)
Where It All Began
Family offices, in some form, were most likely in existence even in ancient times. The New York Times has stated that the Rockefeller family pioneered the concept of family offices towards the end of the 19th century. In the 1980s, family offices became more popular, and the industry seems to have enjoyed an international boom recently.
After the global financial crisis, wealthier families started to rethink working with traditional investment firms and financial advisors. In search of ways to gain more active control, these families created their own wealth management offices. The United States has lead the charge, with some sources estimating as many as 5,000 single family offices currently in existence in the U.S.
Passing On to Future Generations
Some of the older firms face challenges from the younger generations of family members, as they start to question the costs involved. As these younger family members take over, some choose to simply close the offices.
Others decide to open up their offices to include other families, hoping that they can keep the level of service while sharing overhead costs and reducing the expenses for any one family. Other family offices make the choice to combine with a larger firm that will handle administrative work and reporting while providing dedicated office managers and staff to handle interactions with the family members.