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Why does UBS think the US doesn’t matter when it comes to family offices?

UBS has just produced its latest comprehensive global family office study. It’s full of in-depth analysis of investment, costs, and other trends in the family office world. But if you’re a North American family office, you might want to look elsewhere for relevance in your region. 

The UBS Global Family Office Report 2022 compiled its research with a survey of 221 single-family offices, with average assets under management of $2.2 billion. That’s a lot of family offices and a lot of money they manage.  

The US leads the world regarding family office trends and what happens there – and, as with most trends in investment, the rest of the world follows a few years later

The problem is that just 22 came from North America, according to UBS. More came from Latin America, with 33 (15%) of the total. The Middle East and Africa were represented by 35 (16%). 

Family Capital has been down this path before with the UBS report, but it doesn’t seem to have heeded our advice. Of course, the bank probably has other priorities, like most of its client base in the family office world reside outside of the US – fair enough. 

But not too labour the point too much, according to our Analytics database of more than 1,100 family offices, nearly half are US-based family offices. A bigger database – probably the biggest in the world – is the PwC one with more than 6,000 family offices. Around 40% of that database comprises US family offices. 

The US leads the world regarding family office trends and what happens there – and, as with most trends in investment, the rest of the world follows a few years later. 

So any global analysis of family offices should at least canvass US family offices for more than just 10% of their sample group. 

Another point along the same theme to be made with these “global” reports on family offices is that they downplay important regional differences. OK, the report does break down some regional trends, but only as a brief add on at the end. Perhaps what would work better would be a much bigger regional focus and a shorter global one. 

Also, where are the case studies? Too many of these reports blind the reader with numbers and percentages – there’s very little human scale analysis that case studies can bring. Of course, there is often conflict of interest issues with such case studies when done by the advisory sector – but try making the analysis more entertaining by bringing in the human element. 

One last gripe – where was the analysis of the venture sector in the report? Yes, private equity is more popular than ever, which the report emphasizes, but the venture sector wasn’t even reported on. Given family offices have been big investors in venture in the last 10 years, doesn’t this merit some coverage?

Anyway, probably best to make your own mind up about the analysis and read the report here.

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