Best practice education, unique networking opportunities and peer-to-peer insights were enjoyed by families and their family offices at the latest Campden European Family Office Conference in London this week.
Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the continent’s leading family office conference was held for the first time in the historic Royal Society on 6-7 November 2018, and attended by principals, family members and senior executives from 150 true single family offices.
Jamie Cayzer-Colvin, fifth generation executive director of Caledonia Investments, returned as conference chairman for two days of confidential speeches, panel discussions and networking sessions.
Peter Newton, events director at Campden Wealth, said the conference’s theme, “Progression of the Family Office”, enabled speakers to discuss how the family office landscape had evolved over the past 20 years and how it could adapt for the future.
"The theme was great because it allowed us to look back over the last 20 years and forward to the next 20 years on a number of key areas, from family office strategy and structure and investment portfoilio allocations to the legacy family offices are creating and how they are incorporating the next generation into the family fold," he said.
“The conference was all about peer-to-peer learning and instead of experts telling you what you should be knowing, the attendees could experience what other families know and how they garner their knowledge.”
Newton said among the outstanding presentations was the address delivered by Canadian-based George Garvin Brown IV, chairman of fifth generation Brown-Forman family office, who spoke about how they structure their family enterprise to best ensure the long-term future of the business.
“He spoke about how the sixth generation were rapidly coming through, increasing on the current 55 family stakeholders, engaging the next generation from a young age and keeping family unity across all the different branches of their family office, which is very important to them,” he said.
Newton said the key takeaways from the conference were:
- The evolution and future of family offices “20 years ago no one knew what a family office was and now it’s generally accepted that the family office is its own institution. Going forward, family offices are relinquishing a bit of control, they don’t have to adhere to the very strong structures we’ve seen over the last 10 years and they can be more nimble and flexible”.
- Investment allocations of family office portfolios “Just as we saw on the Global Family Office 2018 report, private equity is massive for families, co-investments are really popular, there is concern about how much dry power there is in the world, which is said to be in the trillions and direct investments between families is very popular”.
- Strategy and structures of family office “Families and the family enterprise, be it business, office or a combination of the two are far more progressive in their outlook when it comes to diversity, governance and leadership. It’s no longer the reserve of the stale banking-esque community, you can be forward thinking and you can be adventurous.”
- Family office legacy “More and more focus is being put on what you are actually doing with your wealth—it’s not just about financial return and especially if you’re under the age of 30, you’ve got far more impetus in your outlook on how you can create impact and social returns alongside the financial ones”.
- Next generation participation “Involve the next generation as early as you possibly can and allow them to make their own mistakes, be it in their business or their office and make sure they get experience outside of the family before bringing them into the fold”
Commenting on how the sessions were received by the families and family offices who attended the conference, Newton said the response from families was “overwhelmingly positive”.
He added that although the conference had incorporated more of the next generation into this year’s event, he would be looking to engage more with them for next year’s conference.
“We touched on it this year that the next generation excel at entrepreneurship and the power, passion and energy they bring to projects is refreshing and global compared to their forbearers but we will be looking to bring in more next year,” he said.
Away from the panel sessions, guests enjoyed a gala evening at the renowned National Portrait Gallery after public closing, where they were treated to a private tour of the collection and dinner.
The European Family Office Conference followed the Asia Pacific Family Office Conference at the Ritz-Carlton in Hong Kong on 31 October to 1 November. Campden Wealth next hosts the North American Family Office Conference in Boston on 26-28 November then the Middle East Family Enterprise and Investment Conference in Abu Dhabi on 10-11 December.