The Value of a Family Office

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The Value of a Family Office

High net-worth families in today's global society have numerous aspects of their lives that require expert attention and efforts to manage and integrate. This is especially true for families in which legacy and enduring posterity are considered worthy goals. Financial advisors come in handy for this purpose, and so do family offices.

Although family offices may have emerged to serve as vehicles through which economic family goals are to be achieved, they have now evolved to meet whatever needs a family may have, including economic and non-economic agendas.

Single family offices and multi family offices are private offices with organizational and operational structures that are designed to meet the complex needs of families, including managing family's assets and activities. These private offices provide unifying strategies and sets of services that serve a range of purposes, ranging from finance management and wealth growth to philanthropy and perpetuation of family values and culture.

Is a Family Office Worth It?

Since most high net-worth individuals and families have proven their wittiness with money and business, there is the temptation to think that they can always manage their wealth and finances internally. Some will think, 'Why bother with the cost?', however, sometimes more is indeed less.

As the wealth of a family grows and their holdings become too substantial, it is wise for a family to either set-up or outsource to a family office. The roles and responsibilities of finance and wealth management and the goals of legacy and enduring posterity are better transferred to experts whose job will be solely focused on these.

Hence, a family office can be a vehicle that serves as a central support system for a family's posterity, brings about an alignment of family's varying values and initiatives, and has the potential to deliver higher financial returns, through expert oversight and efficiency.

As family members consider whether a dedicated family office is the next step for them, the specific needs and circumstances of a family will determine whether a family office is appropriate for them or not.

High Net Worth Families

For families with enormous wealth, the services of a family office might be key to managing and preserving that wealth. The specialized and tailored services provided by a family office can be very beneficial in addressing the complex and unique financial needs of an extremely wealthy family.

A single family office or multi family office can provide investment management, tax and estate planning, philanthropy, risk management, and financial education which can be difficult for a family to manage internally.

Average Families

However, for families with less significant wealth, the cost of a family office may not be justified. In such cases, traditional wealth management services may be sufficient to meet the family's needs.

It's worth noting that the value of a family office is not simply in the financial management, but also in the governance and guidance a family office can provide to a family. It's important for the family to evaluate what they want to achieve with their wealth, and how a family office can help them achieve those goals.

What is the Benefit of a Family Office?

The benefits of a family office can include:

Tailored Financial Management

A family office can provide customized and comprehensive financial management for a family, bringing together a team of experts with a wide range of skills and experience to provide tailored solutions for the unique needs of a family.

Continuity and Stability

A family office can help ensure that a family's financial goals are met over multiple generations, and that the family's wealth is passed on in an organized and tax-efficient manner.

Privacy and Discretion

Family offices often work with wealthy families, many of whom wish to keep their financial affairs private. A family office can provide a sense of privacy and discretion for a family.

Exclusive Investment Opportunities

A family office can provide access to exclusive investment opportunities and a higher level of service than a traditional wealth manager.

Integrated Services

Family offices typically provide a wide range of services including financial planning, investment management, tax planning, risk management, legal and accounting services, and estate planning.

Family Governance

Family offices often play a key role in advising and guiding families on governance issues, such as family communication, decision-making, and succession planning.


Family offices can assist families in developing and implementing philanthropic strategies that align with the family's values and goals.

In general, family offices provide an unusual combination of benefits that make them the go-to wealth management vehicle today. They guarantee both financial and non-financial benefits that traditionally occur in separate systems.

What Net Worth Should a Family Office Have?

While there is no fixed net worth required before a family can set-up a family office, there are a number of important factors to consider before establishing one.

The decision to establish a family office depends on the specific needs and goals of the family. Some families who may be worth several hundreds of million dollars may not need a family office, while others with a net worth of tens of millions of dollars may find it useful.

However, depending on which expert you speak to, it is generally understood that a net worth between $50-100 million would make a family office viable. This viability is evaluated in light of the cost of setting up or outsourcing a family office (which may run to $1 million annually) and the services that these costs are meant to generate.

One more important consideration critical to forming a family office is the size of family and diversity of investments. For example, a family with a large number of beneficiaries and diverse investments may need a family office at a lower net worth than a family with a smaller number of beneficiaries and fewer investments. Fiduciaries will help you crunch down the number.

How Do Family Relationships Impact the Family Office?

Due to the relationships between families and family offices, a few complications arise that make family offices uneasy for professionals from institutional financial backgrounds:


Taking their cues from various Governance modules such as those developed by Julian Lim, family offices might require various governing systems including the need for a Family Charter as the foundational document of the vehicle and the inclusion of family members on governing committees.

Portfolio Management

A hedge fund may have an investment strategy with extremely short timelines ranging from a few days to a few nanoseconds, while a family office might have an investment strategy with extended timelines, some ranging from decades to centuries.


Philanthropy is often a crucial part of family offices. On very rare occasions, principals of family offices may wish to give away all of their wealth. This can be impacted by family relationships as different generations have different desires and modes of interacting with charities.

Subsequent generations of family members may wish to be more involved, may seek to be given more details about their different donations, and be more concerned about seeing the fruits of their giving.

Also, some family members may be inclined to new types of vehicles from crowdfunding and volunteering to impact investing and giving circles.

Human Element

Family offices may prioritize family members, sometimes, even at the cost of financial logic. This becomes even more difficult for professionals with traditional backgrounds when they have to work with the ever changing motives and missions of some whimsical principals.

One other way that the human element impacts a family office is in the area of investments. Sometimes there are assets and collections that also pass for investment. This can include various collections from classic cars and jewelleries to fine wine and art works. These often require very different handling from traditional investments.

Risk Management

Due to the family side of family offices, risk management includes very different aspects and takes on a very different approach. Risks such as kidnap, divorce, family resentments, the roles of heirs, and confidentiality breaches must be included. Often, there's a need to develop a comprehensive risk plan which will enable a family office to identify, manage and mitigate risk in this environment.

How Will You Define Success for Your Family Office?

Success for a single family office or multi family office can be defined in a number of ways, depending on the goals and needs of the family. Some common measures of success for a family office could be financial or non-financial.

Financial Metrics

Financial performance: the family office should be able to grow and preserve the family's wealth over time through sound investment strategies and risk management.

Philanthropy: the family office should be able to assist the family in developing and implementing philanthropic strategies that align with the family's values and goals.

Succession planning: the family office should be able to assist the family with succession planning to ensure a smooth transition of the family's wealth and business interests to future generations.

Non-financial Metrics

Compliance and governance: the family office should adhere to all applicable laws and regulations and maintain the highest standards of integrity and ethical behavior.

Family satisfaction: the family office should be able to provide the services and support that the family needs, and the family should be satisfied with the quality and level of service provided by the office.

Continuity and preservation: the family office should be able to ensure continuity and preservation of the family's wealth over multiple generations.

Working with the Right Team

Whether you're considering setting up a family office or outsourcing to one, working with fiduciaries and financial advisors such as Bay Street Capital Holdings' William Huston is key to perpetuating your family' s wealth and legacies.

Bay Street Capital Holdings

Bay Street Capital Holdings is a Black-owned, independent investment advisory, wealth management, and financial planning firm headquartered in Palo Alto, CA. They manage portfolios with the goal of maintaining and increasing total assets and income with a high priority on managing total risk and volatility. Although many advisors may focus on maximizing returns, they place a higher priority on managing total risk and volatility.

Our founder, William Huston founded Bay Street after 13 years of supporting the United States' largest retirement plan ($650B) Thrift Savings Plan. He is recognized as Investopedia’s Top 100 Financial Advisors for 2022. In California, Bay Street Capital Holdings is the only Black-owned firm out of the twenty firms that received this recognition.

In Scottsdale Arizona, Ekenna Anya-Gafu CFP, AAMS is recognized among the Best Financial Advisors for his responsiveness, friendliness, helpfulness, and detail. Bay Street was founded to advocate for diverse and emerging fund managers and entrepreneurs.

In 2021, Bay Street was selected as a finalist out of over 900 firms across the US in the category of Asset Manager for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

Creating Greater Economic and Non-economic Value


William Huston, AIF®, AIFA®
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