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Best Practices of Family Offices—And Why You Should Care Thumbnail

Best Practices of Family Offices—And Why You Should Care

Key Takeaways:

  • Focusing on results—not just the solutions to get those results—is crucial.
  • Top professionals hone their best skills and outsource the rest.
  • Building and leveraging productive relationships can lead to superior outcomes.

Family offices stand at the pinnacle of wealth and lifestyle management, catering exclusively to the multifaceted needs of affluent families. Family offices epitomize the zenith of bespoke financial and personal services, from wealth preservation and growth to accessing premier experts for business, individual, and social matters.

The single-family office is the gold standard—a dedicated entity managing one family's financial and personal affairs. These offices vary widely in structure, services, and scope but share a unified purpose: to cater to a single family's unique needs and preferences with the highest talent and expertise available.

The promising news is that the principles and practices of family offices are increasingly being integrated into broader wealth management services through a virtual family office model. This evolution means you don't need to be a Gates, Musk, or Walton to experience family office-level service and benefits.

Five Key Traits to Look For

To bring the family office experience into your financial planning, consider these five best practices that distinguish top family offices. Use them as benchmarks when evaluating your current or prospective financial advisors:

  1. Results Driven: Top family offices prioritize clear goals and accountability, constantly adjusting to meet desired outcomes.
  2. Thoughtful Decision-Making: Effective family offices excel in decision-making that balances diverse priorities and values.
  3. Strategic Outsourcing: They focus on their core strengths and outsource other areas to external experts, ensuring the best results efficiently.
  4. Purposeful Connecting: They leverage extensive personal and professional networks to create value and opportunities.
  5. Maximizing Relationships: They capitalize on their wealth and connections, negotiating favorable terms and prices for services and deliverables.

Let's delve deeper into each trait:

Results Driven

Family offices transform intentions into tangible results, aligning outcomes with the family's documented goals and preferences. Wealth advisors should focus on your objectives, discussing measurable goals rather than just financial products and strategies. This approach ensures that the advice you receive is directly tied to the results you aim to achieve.

Consider how well your advisor understands your desired outcomes and whether they tailor their strategies to meet these goals.

Thoughtful Decision-Making

Family dynamics often involve differing opinions and priorities, making thoughtful decision-making essential. Influential advisors must balance personal values with economic realities, ensuring that decisions reflect ethical considerations and financial viability.

Evaluate how your advisor integrates your values and the economic implications into their decision-making process.

Strategic Outsourcing

Top family offices recognize their strengths and strategically outsource tasks to external experts where needed. This practice ensures the highest quality outcomes, leveraging specialized expertise for better and often more cost-effective results.

Please inquire about your advisor's approach to outsourcing and their criteria for selecting and managing external experts.

Purposeful Connecting

A robust network is invaluable. Family offices excel at building and utilizing relationships to enhance opportunities and outcomes. Similarly, wealth managers should connect with other professionals and resources to benefit their clients.

Assess your advisor's networking abilities and potential to connect you with valuable contacts and resources.

Maximizing Relationships

Negotiating favorable terms with external experts and organizations is a hallmark of high-functioning family offices. The wealth and experience they bring enable them to secure advantageous deals.

Determine how adept your advisor is at negotiating terms and fees with third-party service providers to ensure you receive optimal value.


While starting your own single-family office may not be feasible, you can still benefit from the best practices of family offices by working with advisors who understand and implement these strategies through a virtual family office model. This approach can significantly enhance your wealth management experience, bringing you closer to achieving your family's financial and personal goals.

By adhering to these principles, wealth managers can offer a family office-like experience, ensuring that even those without a famous last name can access top-tier financial and lifestyle management services. Embrace these practices to elevate your financial planning and secure a prosperous future for your family.

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