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In the previous instalments of our series on How to Start a Family Business, we discussed various aspects such as defining the family office purpose, building a successful family office team, and choosing between single family office and multi family office structure. Now, as we delve deeper into the process, it becomes crucial to establish a governance structure that ensures efficient decision-making, defines roles and responsibilities, and facilitates open dialogue among family members.  

In this sixth part of our series, we explore the significance of a well-designed governance structure and the role it plays in the long-term success of a family office. 

Decision-Making Processes 

A robust governance structure for a family office is essential to ensure efficient decision-making. It provides a clear framework and guidelines for making important financial and investment decisions. By establishing well-defined processes, family members and team members can navigate complex financial matters with a shared understanding of how choices are made. 

When establishing decision-making processes, it is crucial to strike a balance between the family’s involvement and the expertise of non-family executives. While family members often bring unique insights and a long-term vision, it is important to embrace professional advice and independent perspectives to drive growth and adapt to changing market dynamics. 

Roles and Responsibilities 

Defining roles and responsibilities is a crucial aspect of the governance structure for a family office. Each family member and team member should have clear roles that align with their skills, expertise, and interests. This not only promotes efficiency and accountability but also avoids duplication of efforts and minimises potential conflicts. 

It is important to base role assignments on merit and competence rather than solely on family relationships. By doing so, the family office can ensure that the most qualified individuals are entrusted with specific responsibilities, leading to effective financial management and investment decision-making. 


Formalising Communications through a Family Council 

An integral part of the governance structure for a family office is the establishment of a family council. The family council serves as a forum for family members to discuss family objectives, investment matters, and other financial affairs. It provides a structured platform for open dialogue, enabling different generations to contribute their perspectives and participate in the decision-making process. 

The family council should include a diverse representation of family members, ensuring inclusivity and active engagement. Meetings can be organised to include discussions on investment performance, updates on financial strategies, and alignment with long-term goals. By formalising communications through a family council, the family office benefits from collective wisdom, fosters unity, and enhances decision-making processes. 

Embracing Practical Realities 

When designing a governance structure for a family office, it is essential to consider the practical realities of the family and its financial goals. Each family has its unique dynamics, values, and aspirations. Recognising these factors allows for tailoring the governance structure to suit the specific needs and preferences of the family. 

Flexibility is crucial when adapting the governance structure to changing circumstances. As the family office evolves and new generations become involved, periodic reviews and revisions of the structure ensure its ongoing relevance and effectiveness. Embracing adaptability enables the family office to navigate challenges and capitalise on opportunities while preserving and growing wealth for future generations. 

Family office governance structure

Why is it important to have a Family Office governance structure? 

Establishing a governance structure is a critical step in effectively managing a family office. By outlining decision-making processes, defining roles and responsibilities, and formalising communications through a family council, the structure provides a framework for efficient financial management and decision-making. It is important to balance family involvement with professional expertise and adapt the structure to the practical realities of the family and its financial goals.  

With a well-designed governance structure in place, a family office can successfully navigate the complexities of wealth management, ensuring the long-term preservation and growth of the family’s wealth across generations. 

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