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Fri 31 May 2024
5 Essential Insights for Fund Managers Working with Single Family Offices
In the dynamic landscape of investment management, the growing collaboration between fund managers and family offices



In the dynamic landscape of investment management, the growing collaboration between fund managers and family offices is marked by the necessity to grasp the unique investment preferences and perspectives of these offices. This understanding is crucial for effective fund management and navigating the competitive environment of securing funding from Single Family Offices (SFOs). According to insights from Ashton Global Investment Management, the cornerstone of forging successful relationships with family offices is rooted in transparency, trust and clear communication. Fund managers must extend beyond traditional investment pitches to develop strategies that are meticulously tailored to the specific goals and values of the family office. As Killian Graulich, Managing Partner at KCG Advisory, Switzerland, emphasized during a recent Global Investment Leaders Club event: “It’s essential to treat interactions with family offices as a two-way application process. Asking about their investment behavior and strategies allows fund managers to tailor their presentations and pitches accordingly.” This approach does more than respect the unique perspectives of family offices—it positions fund managers as attentive, adaptable partners capable of thriving in a complex investment landscape.


"My long-standing involvement with the Club has been filled with meetings with diverse and interesting people from around the globe. It’s a vibrant community where members share a common interest in sectors like food tech and agri-tech, among others." - Werner Schuenemann, Founder at Xandance & Partners, Switzerland


1. Maximize Impact Through Key Relationships


Building on the established trust and alignment with family office goals, fund managers are encouraged to focus on strengthening existing relationships with Single Family Offices (SFOs), who often prefer to reinvest with familiar and successful managers. This preference underscores the importance of continuity and reliability in the investment landscape. Lisa Morris, Managing Director at AKS Family Partners, US, articulates this process, stating, 'Building relationships is universal, whether you're a family office, a fund, or even a volunteer. It's about developing connections and family offices are particularly cautious about their partnerships, often requiring time to build trust.' With an increasing shift towards investments that yield clear, measurable impacts, fund managers are well-advised to direct their attention to projects in areas like sustainable infrastructure or healthcare innovations. These sectors are particularly appealing to SFOs due to the tangible and beneficial outcomes they offer, such as improved public health or environmental sustainability.


To effectively communicate the tangible impacts of their funds, fund managers should leverage past successes and provide concrete examples of their achievements. For instance, detailing a fund’s role in reducing carbon emissions through sustainable energy projects or enhancing access to medical care through healthcare infrastructure investments can significantly reassure and attract family office investors. By moving beyond generic Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) claims to concrete results, fund managers can demonstrate their commitment to impactful investing and solidify their relationships with discerning family office investors. This strategic emphasis on documented successes and specific, impactful themes aligns with the increasing selectivity of SFOs and serves as a robust foundation for ongoing partnerships.


"Since joining the Club, I’ve been struck by its distinct sense of intimacy and collaborative spirit, a stark contrast to other groups I’ve been part of. Members are genuinely interested in helping each other grow, devoid of the competition often found elsewhere." - Mina Nozari, Chief of Staff at LVC Global Holdings, UK


2. Evolving Investment Strategies for Tangible Results


As the investment landscape evolves, fund managers are increasingly urged to refine their strategies, focusing on clear, outcome-oriented themes that resonate with family offices. This shift entails moving away from broad Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) claims to concentrate on specific sectors such as digital education and energy transition, which are not only aligned with current technological advancements and sustainability but are also particularly favored by Single Family Offices (SFOs). Albert Pezone, Founder at Nurmenkari, US, observes a related trend during a discussion at a recent G.I.L.C. event, noting, 'Amid global stressors and societal unrest, we've seen a notable shift towards sectors such as renewable energy. This indicates a broader strategic realignment among investors.'


To effectively showcase this strategic alignment in fund offerings and investor communications, it is crucial for fund managers to develop compelling narratives that connect their investment strategies directly to these high-impact sectors. They should provide data-driven examples of past fund successes in these areas, thus demonstrating a proven track record and the ability to replicate such results. For example, referencing authoritative sources like McKinsey's Global Energy Perspective 2023 can enhance a fund's narrative. This report details the significant investment needed to meet the Paris Agreement goals and highlights the growing cost-competitiveness of renewable energies like solar and wind. It emphasizes how these investments are not only necessary for global carbon reduction but are also economically advantageous due to lower operational expenditures compared to traditional energy sources. By presenting a clear, data-supported investment thesis that aligns with the values and interests of family offices, fund managers can illustrate the tangible benefits and substantial economic opportunities inherent in these sectors. This approach not only addresses the environmental and social impacts but also aligns with economic incentives, making a strong case for family offices looking to invest in projects that offer both financial returns and real-world impact.


"My experience with the Club has been nothing short of positive, filled with eye-opening discussions and the chance to meet amazing individuals. It’s a global forum that provides insight into investment opportunities worldwide, facilitating engaging conversations and new connections at every session." - Mohammad Salem, Founder at Salem Group, UAE


3. Building Trust With SFOS Through Transparent Financial Metrics


In response to heightened financial scrutiny from family offices, fund managers are advised to adopt more conservative and transparent fee structures. This shift is crucial as family offices increasingly push back against traditional compensation models, such as the 2-and-20 fee structure, in favor of arrangements that more directly align with genuine performance outcomes. Elaine Chow, Advisory Board Member at Voyager Capital, Hong Kong, highlights the importance of this approach: 'Building trust is essential and it develops over time as fund managers demonstrate their expertise and financial prudence. Transparent practices are key to examining and establishing trust.' By clearly communicating these changes, fund managers can meet the growing demand for detailed, straightforward financial metrics.

Adoption of high-water marks. It is one of the most effective methods to ensure transparency which guarantees that fund managers are rewarded only for net positive performance, aligning their incentives with the long-term interests of investors. This practice not only demonstrates a commitment to fair financial practices but also reassures family offices that their investments are managed with financial prudence.


To better align with the performance expectations and financial ethics valued by family offices, fund managers should consider restructuring their fee agreements to reflect these principles. By being transparent about their financial metrics and adopting more conservative fee structures, fund managers can significantly enhance their credibility with family offices. This approach not only satisfies the meticulous financial scrutiny of sophisticated investors but also fosters a foundation of trust and alignment that is critical for sustaining long-term investment relationships.


"For a significant period now, I have been a dedicated member of the Club, a journey that has been both enlightening and enjoyable. What makes the Club particularly captivating for me are the gatherings we have. They serve as a fantastic platform not only to meet fellow investors and create long-lasting, meaningful connections but also to gain insightful knowledge about the global investment landscape." - Nagaraja Prakasam, Partner at Acumen Fund, India


4. Address Niche Markets with High Growth Potential


As investment landscapes continue to evolve, fund managers have a prime opportunity to tap into niche markets that, although currently under the radar, present substantial growth potential. Mental health innovations serve as a compelling example of such markets, particularly in the United States where public perception and regulatory landscapes are rapidly changing in response to healthcare needs. For instance, significant public and private funds are increasingly directed toward combating the opioid crisis and enhancing mental health services, indicating a robust market demand and investment potential. Lisa Morris, Managing Director at AKS Family Partners, US, reflects on strategic investment focus, stating, 'In our family office, we strategically focus on areas where we can apply a deep understanding and create meaningful impact, similar to how fund managers might target niche sectors like mental health innovations that require specific insights and commitment.' For fund managers, the key to capitalizing on these opportunities lies in performing thorough market analyses that not only quantify the potential impact and returns but also contextualize the shifts in public policies and societal attitudes towards those niche markets.


When presenting these niche opportunities to family offices, it is essential for fund managers to demonstrate a deep understanding of the sector through detailed strategic plans and potential outcomes. They should showcase their commitment and expertise by articulating how their investment approach can navigate and exploit these trends for high returns and significant societal impact. Additionally, fund managers should emphasize the transformative potential of investing in mental health innovations, such as improving community well-being and creating long-term economic value, thus aligning these investments with the values and impact goals of family offices. By effectively leveraging detailed market insights and aligning them with strategic investment plans, fund managers can attract family offices looking for opportunities that offer both meaningful impact and substantial returns in emerging niche markets.


"My engagement with the Club has been incredibly beneficial for networking and discovering investment opportunities. The community is vibrant, with members eager to share ideas and foster long-term relationships." - Martin Fritsch, CFO at VFS Global, UAE


5. Build Credibility through Consistency and Clear Communication


To build and maintain credibility with family offices, it is crucial for fund managers to uphold consistency in team composition, fund size and investment strategy. Family offices often view changes in management and strategic shifts with skepticism, concerned about the potential impacts on their investments. Thus, the stability of the management team and the continuity of the investment approach are pivotal in reassuring family offices of the fund’s reliability and long-term viability.


The critical role of a stable, experienced management team cannot be overstated in gaining the trust of family offices. Such stability signals expertise and a deep understanding of the market, which are key attributes that family offices look for in their investment partners. To effectively communicate these strengths, fund managers should consistently highlight their team’s stability and track record in both pitches and ongoing communications with family office investors. Moreover, when tailoring presentations and communications, it's essential to align them closely with the family office’s investment philosophy and historical preferences. This tailored approach not only makes the family office feel understood and respected but also reinforces the fund manager's commitment to maintaining a stable and reliable investment environment. By clearly articulating these aspects of stability and reliability, fund managers can strengthen their credibility and foster enduring relationships with family offices.


"My time in the Club has been marked by enriching discussions and the forging of valuable connections. It’s a space that champions collaboration over individual success, embodying the idea that we achieve more together. The focus on shared goals and interests, coupled with the opportunity to meet like-minded investors, has been particularly fulfilling." - Serhat Cicekoglu, Founder at Sente Ventures, US



In conclusion, effectively engaging with family offices requires fund managers to build trust through transparency, tailor strategies to impactful sectors, employ clear financial metrics, capitalize on niche markets and maintain management consistency. These practices not only meet the sophisticated demands of family offices but also position fund managers for success in a dynamic investment landscape. To stay updated on this as well as many other crucial topics of the investment landscape shared during the Global Investment Leaders Club's gathering, be sure to register for one of our upcoming events and start forging your trustful relationships with the single family offices today

Participants mentioned in the article
Werner Schuenemann
Managing Partner
Xandance & Partners
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