Tuesday, 21 May 2024

Citi: Family offices prioritise asset preservation and succession planning

5 min read

Citi Private Bank’s Global Family Office (GFO) group has released the results of its 2023 Family Office Survey, outlining the key challenges and areas of opportunities for the world’s most sophisticated investors, its family office clients, in the year ahead.

The survey, which is distributed each year to all of Citi’s family office clients globally, has seen a sharp rise in the number of respondents this year, with participation more than doubling from the previous year, indicating the desire amongst family offices to compare best practices and understand the positioning of peers on a confidential basis. Participants in Asia Pacific made up 21% of total respondents, the highest proportion and number from this region since the inception of the annual survey.

In addition to global themes and results, several key findings emerged from Asia:

In a broad portfolio reassessment, the increase in cash allocations by 54% of respondents was the biggest shift reported in Asia Pacific and the highest relative to other regions.

With plans to reposition their portfolios in the next 12 months, family offices in this region were most bullish on global developed investment grade fixed income (43%), private credit (33%), private equity direct investments (29%), and emerging market equities (29%). Preferred sectors for public markets were technology (76%), healthcare (61%) and financials (37%).

While direct investing continues to be a focus globally, respondents from Asia Pacific, at 69%, were the least likely to engage in direct investments relative to their peers in other regions.

On family office management and governance, 64% of respondents from this region cited wealth management services as their primary family office focus, followed by investment management at 62%. This was in line with findings across other regions as family offices contend with the uncertain macro environment.

In addressing family concerns, preserving the value of assets was the most important for families in Asia Pacific as indicated by 74% of respondents – the highest relative to other regions. This was followed by preparing the next generation to be responsible wealth owners (59%).

The survey points to the increasing professionalisation of family offices. In Asia Pacific, 63% of respondents had already separated their entities from their family businesses while 13% were working on it. Around 55% and 49% had clear processes internal controls, and formal strategic plans, in place respectively.

The appetite for sustainable investments in Asia Pacific was higher than in other regions. Only 6% of respondents in the region lacked any exposure to sustainable investing – the lowest percentage relative to other regions.

Family offices are working hard to reflect the giving philosophy and priorities of the rising generation. In Asia Pacific, family offices are seeking support to engage the next generation with 38% of respondents planning philanthropic leadership succession, and 36% are looking at enhancing the strategic development of philanthropy.

Hannes Hofmann, global head of the global family office group at Citi Private Bank, said: “We are excited to share this year’s survey findings, which reflect the needs and actions of some of the most diverse and sophisticated family offices around the world.”

“With 268 respondents, we believe this is the most comprehensive survey of its kind, offering unique insights into the global challenges and opportunities family offices face today. With two-thirds of respondents from outside the US, we have the opportunity to compare findings between Asia, Europe, Latin and North America, as well as between family offices that serve first-and second-generation families, versus third–, fourth-, and later generations. We look forward to working closely with our family office clients, to enable them to access all areas of Citi across wealth management, investment banking, commercial banking and custody and security services,” Hoffman said.

While allocations to cash increased most significantly in Asia Pacific as clients navigated market uncertainty, the majority of respondents polled in the region also expected positive returns on their portfolios in the next 12 months. A majority (49%) of respondents anticipate returns of around 10% to 15% in their portfolios.

Jonathan Gan, South Asia head of the global family office group at Citi Private Bank, said: “Our latest survey offers granular insights to the investment behaviours and preferences of family offices in Asia Pacific where investors are looking out for returns and diversification opportunities including indirect investments.”

"With respondents in this region holding a sizable proportion of investible cash, and with their bullish outlook on investment grade fixed income, private markets and emerging market equities, we would expect to see investment activity in the region pick up, supported by the unique deals and access to global opportunities facilitated by the global family office,” Gan said.

The survey also speaks to the evolution of family offices in this region, which are becoming more sophisticated as well as professionalised. This is true not just of the family offices, but families themselves, as they put more structure and thought into their planning for future generations. In Asia Pacific, for example, 37% of respondents had a family constitution/charter in place, and 33% already had family leadership succession plans.

Faye Ong, head of family office advisory, Asia, global family office group at Citi Private Bank, said: “Family offices have complex and incredibly specific needs, making it critical for them to have in place the correct structures and governance, in addition to identifying investment preferences and needs. We are increasingly working with our family office clients on the advisory side as they evolve to be more professional, taking into account the dynamics of each family, their nuanced requirements and their areas of priority and interest such as impact investing and philanthropy.”

This year’s survey was initiated during Citi Private Bank’s eighth annual Family Office Leadership Programme held in June 2023. The survey was subsequently released to Citi Private Bank’s global family office clients for input. The survey included over 40 questions aimed at gauging investment sentiment and portfolio actions of clients in the wake of ongoing geopolitical tensions, macroeconomic headwinds, and market volatility in early 2023. It drew responses from 268 participants who were included in this report.

Citi Private Bank’s global family office group serves single-family offices, private investment companies and private holding companies, including family-owned enterprises and foundations, around the world. It provides comprehensive private banking and family office advisory services, institutional access to global opportunities and connections to a community of like-minded peers.


Re-disseminated by The Asian Banker

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