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Ex-private banker sets up family office deal group

A renowned head of global private banking has quit his job to start an advisory boutique which wants to advise single-family offices on the development of co-investment deals. 

Marc Debois resigned as head of global private banking at Dutch wholesale bank ING last September. He believes family offices are increasingly weary of investing on the stock market whose booms and slumps cause headaches for investors, but generate hefty fees for their intermediaries. Debois has called his new business Family Office Next (FO-Next) and will seek to facilitate private deals in the sustainable sector. 

It (FO-Next) has tracked direct deals by 1,100 family offices and found they have increased in number by 266% to 4,100 since 2020

Unlike most providers of financial services, he does not want FO-Next to trap his participants into a fee-driven client relationship. He wants to operate behind the scenes, on a deal-by-deal basis, receiving fees for providing ideas and advice on mutually-agreed terms, which may involve an ongoing role in the final project.

He says sensible terms can be struck where parties retain a position of trust in their community, making fee scales redundant. At present, Debois is the sole trader at FO-Next, choosing to concentrate on finding deals for his contacts. But he has been approached by individuals interested in working with him, or providing funding, at some point.

Marc Debois joined Dutch bank ING as a commercial trustee in 2002, and worked his way up the organisation in a variety of positions and sectors.  He has advised family offices and high net worth individuals on consulting, project management, investment banking, portfolio management, insurance and lending. 

He continues to serve as strategic adviser to management consultant Tydex and shareholder in Hush, which specialises in helping individuals to keep personal information out of reach of the digital world. 

FO-Next’s sustainable transactions typically involve investing in private assets through impact investing, drawing on UN guidelines.  It has tracked direct deals by 1,100 family offices and found they have increased in number by 266% to 4,100 since 2020. Debois believes this trend will continue, as family offices continue to seek low fees and better control of their money. But it is also likely that deals will become harder to strike as liquidity dries up, making intermediaries more important in getting deals over the line. 

FO-Next believes private deals can be best tailored for family offices to meet their longer-term goals. It knows the importance of getting an appropriate return, but believes that companies listed on the stock market get structured to achieve growth, rather than seeking less ambitious returns which are more realistic and in the interests of the next generation. 

It adds: “Although family offices are becoming more well-known in the institutional sector, surveys show 72% still rely on their trusted contacts to obtain opportunities. Forming partnerships is becoming increasingly important.”

Debois has a flexible view on potential transactions. They could involve property deals, for example, or paying to access proprietary carbon data which can provide opportunities to invest in best of class or do business with them.

It could lead to retaining experts, finding entrepreneurs or reducing exposure to projects by finding further. families to invest through a club deal.  In hard times, it could involve locating a like-minded family to take over a project. FO Next can also assist newcomers on technical questions about family offices, such as ways to set them up; form a charter, get to grips with technology and deal with investment issues.

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