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A global family office study with little US coverage – how relevant can it be?

The biggest family office ecosystem by a considerable margin is in the US. 

There are more single-family offices there than anywhere else. It has many of the largest SFOs, and the whole sector there, most pundits would agree, is the most developed in the world. Single family offices across the world seek to emulate their achievements.

The report gives very little column inches to venture capital

So why don’t they feature prominently in UBS’s new Global Family Office study? How relevant is a global survey which does not offer a significant number of their views? UBS was asked to respond, but at the time of publication has not got back to Family Capital

Out of the 121 single-family offices survey – and they were big, with average assets under management of $1.6 billion – more than two-thirds were from the EMEA region (Europe, Middle East, and Africa). The rest comprise the US, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Latin America. So, US family offices might not have even been a third of the other respondents. 

There’s nothing wrong with emphasising what’s going on with family offices in Europe, where, no doubt, most respondents came from in the EMEA region surveyed by UBS. But giving the US’s very little coverage in a global study on family offices it might, some could argue, stretch the global nature of such a report. 

That is particularly relevant when it comes to their portfolios – without giving a significant weighting to the portfolios of US family offices, the global relevance of what they are investing in is downplayed. Even though venture capital has become an intense area of interest for family offices within, and outside, the US, it is not mentioned in its report, and bundled into the broader private equity category.  

Day in day out, US family offices invest in VC. They are doing it directly and indirectly, and many of their counterparts in other parts of the world are emulating them. Indeed, the world of venture is where the real alpha is being made in markets these days, given the way you can use it to access disruption through technology.

Instead, a growing number of respondents to the UBS survey favoured real estate, a recent victim of disruption. Around 55% of family offices in the survey rebalanced their portfolios in March, April and May to maintain their strategic asset allocation. But they were also opportunistic, with two thirds trading up to 15% of portfolios tactically.

Anyway, here is a link to the UBS report for family offices to make up their own mind. 

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