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Panelists Discuss Family Office Views at Forum

The Third Annual Private Wealth East Forum was held at the New York Athletic Club on June 19. This single-day summit focused on the needs of individual investors, family offices and industry-leading intermediaries. The discussions focused primarily on asset allocation, wealth management, alternative investing, private client management, asset protection and socially responsible investing.

EisnerAmper’s Dane Dickler—a partner in our Private Wealth Advisory Group—moderated a panel on “Family Office Views” That featured Clark Chen, chief investment officer at Merrimac; Howard Cooper, chief executive officer at Cooper Family Office; and Geoff George, chief executive officer and chief investment officer at Viewpoint Family Office. The panel tackled such issues as:

  • What are the benefits of implementing a family office structure?
  • How do family offices leverage their relationships with other families and family offices?
  • How are family offices advising clients given the current geopolitical environment?
  • What are investors overpaying for?
  • What concerns family office leaders?

While their answers differed slightly, the panelists were essentially on the same page. They all agreed that privacy and the ability to fully customize are key benefits of implementing the family office structure. Other benefits include the ability to control costs, take increased risk, and gain access to other families and family offices. They then discussed just how they can leverage access to other families and family offices. This is especially important for smaller and mid-sized family offices that may lack some of the internal infrastructure to manage certain issues. These relationships are particularly helpful when they need assistance with due diligence, structure and succession planning, in addition to possibly providing access to deals and other referrals. 

The panel then turned to how they advise clients given the current (often controversial) geopolitical environment. The consensus was that it is extremely important to constantly assess and manage risk and market volatility. They also stressed the importance of being liquid in order to take advantage of opportunities during times of volatility.   

They closed by discussing which services they feel investors are overpaying for and some of the issues keeping them up at night. A pair of services that are being overpaid for stand out: commoditized products and boilerplate models. With respect to concerns, one panelist suggested that an international pandemic worries him, while another was concerned about a lack of leverage.  But the biggest concern among all three: a liquidity crunch.      

Robert Levin is a Tax Partner in EisnerAmper's Personal Wealth Advisors Group with over 20 years' experience in tax planning, estate planning and succession planning for high net worth individuals.

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