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How Can Family Offices Overcome Succession Planning Challenges?

How Can Family Offices Overcome Succession Planning Challenges?

The world of family offices is undergoing somewhat of a revolution, and Singapore is not immune. External forces such as economic turbulence, political discourse, and the global pandemic have created a whole new set of challenges for home offices. 

Beyond this, the values and goals of the younger and older generations within family offices are shifting and diversifying, bringing about a unique, nuanced, and complex landscape.

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As a result, the traditional mechanisms for wealth management and transfer, philanthropy, and investment strategies are being disrupted, and family offices must keep pace with these swift transformations. 

Navigating these waters calls for experienced guidance and an acute understanding of the evolving trends that are influencing the industry.

In this article, we will address some of the most recent and dynamic challenges faced by family offices, and provide unique insights into the strategies that can be employed to ensure their continued success.  

Related Read: Why Will Singapore Remain the Ideal Family Office Home?


The Crucial Concern — Succession Planning

The baton’s transfer from one generation to the next is not just about handing over a well-oiled wealth management machine. It is a delicate process of transitioning values, vision, and operational leadership while balancing the varied ideals of different generations.

The older generations often favour time-tested conventional methodologies, while their younger successors are more inclined to explore disruptive, innovative models. 

A study by BNY Mellon found that approximately 75% of family offices perceive that the younger generation’s focus will shift towards decentralised finance and responsible investments.

Such a stark generational contrast could lead to potential friction, making succession planning a precarious balancing act. Overcoming this challenge requires an acute understanding of these generational perspectives and harmoniously integrating them into a unified strategic vision.


Bridging the Generational Gap through Philanthropy

Interestingly, the landscape isn’t all rocky. A potential bridge between the generations is appearing in the form of philanthropy. 

According to the same BNY Mellon study, nearly three-quarters of family offices participate in philanthropic activities, and 30% have a structured strategy in place, and in our experience, we see Singapore as being no different.

Strategising and implementing shared philanthropic goals could help integrate the socially conscious mindset of the younger generation with the resources of the older generation. 

This instils a shared sense of accomplishment and ensures continued engagement of the younger generation in family affairs. The process can be facilitated by identifying causes close to the family’s heart, setting achievable targets, and regularly reviewing and celebrating progress together.

Related Read: Building a Legacy: How to Set Up a Family Office in Singapore


Regulatory Compliance: A Path to Credibility

Increased regulatory oversight, perceived by many family offices as government intrusion, is yet another challenge. While it may seem like a hurdle, it also offers an opportunity to demonstrate commitment to transparency, ethical practices, and robust governance.

Compliance should not be seen as a mere legal requirement but as a tool for building credibility. 

Proactive measures, such as regularly reviewing and updating compliance policies, conducting frequent audits, and maintaining transparent communication channels with regulators, could prove beneficial. 

Singapore’s transparent and capital-friendly legislation has made it a preferred jurisdiction for family offices from around the world.


ESG Investments: A Route to Sustainable Wealth Management

As an extension of regulatory compliance, embracing Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) factors in investments is becoming an indispensable strategy for family offices in the current era. 

The younger generation is showing an increased interest in responsible investing. In fact, BNY Mellon found 74% of family offices believe that the next generation is more focused on ESG investments, willing to forgo some profit for the sake of societal good.

This surge of interest can be attributed to the next generation’s desire to make a positive impact on society. 

Family office ESG investing

But ESG investing is not just about making ethical choices; it is a long-term approach that identifies companies with sustainable business models, which can offer stable returns over time — studies correlate strong ESG practices with higher profitability and returns on investment.

However, transitioning towards ESG investments can be challenging. The complexity of ESG metrics, the lack of standardisation, and the perceived trade-off between ESG and financial returns are some of the hurdles. 

Family offices can overcome these challenges by educating themselves on ESG investing, developing a clear ESG investment strategy, and getting support from experts in this area.

Moreover, aligning investments with ESG principles demonstrates a commitment to global sustainability efforts, which enhances the family office’s reputation and credibility. 

It creates a strong, positive narrative for the family, aligning wealth creation with values and purpose. The journey toward ESG integration may be complex, but the long-term benefits it offers are worth the effort.


Enlisting Expert Support

Despite the importance of succession planning, many family offices lack the necessary expertise to execute it effectively. Identifying and partnering with a trusted third party that aligns with the family office’s values can mitigate this challenge.

A good partnership can provide the necessary expertise for setting up family offices in areas like legal advice, strategic planning, risk management, and conflict resolution. 

Additionally, such a partnership can offer an objective perspective, facilitating the resolution of sensitive issues and helping the family office navigate complex challenges.


Where to Next for Family Offices in Singapore?

The shifting economic and generational landscape presents both challenges and opportunities for family offices in Singapore. A balanced approach that combines respect for tradition with embracing innovation is critical for successful succession planning. 

Whether your concerns relate to bridging the generational gap, or optimising philanthropy strategies, we have the expertise and experience to guide you. 

Don’t navigate these complex waters alone — contact InCorp today and let our team of experts help you devise and implement effective family office management strategies tailored to your unique needs.

FAQs About Family Offices

  • Succession planning in family offices involves preparing for the transfer of wealth and management responsibility from one generation to the next. It encompasses financial, legal, and personal aspects, and requires careful planning and execution.
  • The primary challenge in succession planning arises from reconciling differing values, visions, and strategies across generations. Additionally, changes in economic and social contexts, like the emergence of cryptocurrencies and increased regulatory oversight, add to the complexity.
  • InCorp provides expert advice on strategic planning, risk management, legal aspects, and conflict resolution, among others. We offer a unique blend of traditional values and innovative approaches to help family offices navigate the challenges of succession planning effectively.

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About the Author

Eric Chin

Eric comes from banking background. He provides consultancy to local and foreign entities on the ideal market-entry strategies for setting up or expanding operations in Southeast Asia. Eric also provides advisory to fund managers and family offices on structuring as well as applicable tax incentives. He has also set up many VCC structures for licenced fund managers.

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