Network for family offices launched in Singapore amid rapid growth in sector

Family offices come in varying sizes and generally focus on investment and wealth management. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - A new network for family offices has been launched here to provide opportunities for firms to collaborate and learn from one another.

Family offices come in varying sizes and generally focus on investment and wealth management, either for a single family or multiple clients. They oversee various business aspects, including tax advisory, philanthropic activities, and business operations.

The establishment of the Global-Asia Family Office Circle (GFO Circle) comes as the family office industry in Singapore has seen rapid growth in recent years, with the number of family offices here doubling to 400 last year compared with the year before.

The network is supported by the Singapore Economic Development Board and the Monetary Authority of Singapore, the Wealth Management Institute (WMI) announced last month.

Mr Desmond Teo, family enterprise leader at professional services firm EY Asia-Pacific and a member of GFO Circle, said the demand for competency and expertise in the family office industry has outpaced the build-up of an adequate pool of experienced advisers and resources to support its needs.

"This is especially key as advisers need to understand the nuances relating to Asian culture and values. They also need to have local language capabilities and the ability to offer a holistic solution by connecting the dots for the family offices," he explained.

Addressing this, the network will be a good platform for industry players to exchange ideas and develop initiatives to grow the ecosystem here, Mr Teo said.

Areas where family offices require support include robust financial reporting and human resources services, as well as cyber-security management, he noted.

The GFO Circle will cater to three different groups in the family office ecosystem - family principals, family office professionals, and service partners, said WMI chief executive Foo Mee Har.

"The ultimate goal of the GFO Circle is to set up a trusted environment for the family office community to come together, share knowledge and gain access to cutting-edge insights; all of which aim to galvanise purposeful wealth towards meaningful causes such as philanthropy, sustainable finance and supporting Singaporean and regional entrepreneurship," she said.

One of GFO Circle's upcoming programmes is on key trends in philanthropy, and will feature guest speakers from the Gates Foundation, the Community Foundation of Singapore and UBS.

The GFO Circle also intends to run certification programmes for family office advisers. These will include exploring the interests and risk considerations of ultra-high-net-worth families.

Ms Foo, an MP for West Coast GRC, said rigorous certification programmes are a core part of WMI's pedagogy.

"Our programmes are accredited with the Institute of Banking and Finance and mapped to in-demand skills," she said.

"We believe this builds deeper expertise and better contributes to the talent pipeline and career pathways in the sector."

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