Family offices have always involved an element of tech, given that most have been led by an investment need; however up until recently, the application of communication and execution tech has been less visible, with family offices tending to prefer good old wet signatures to get the job done.
The pandemic has changed that. It has also changed the way non-financial assets are now stewarded, with the need to consider alternative ways to communicate instructions to asset administrators and family strategy to international Trustees.
Putting a face to a name
Over the past 12 months, we saw the explosion of Zoom, Blue Jeans, Webex and other similar communication tools. These interactions saw families being able to put a face to the team of dedicated administrators who manage their affairs and who perhaps travel less than the senior relationship teams. These virtual meetings also revealed the people behind the letterhead and accelerated the speed at which a family could gain an answer to a burning question. Although the novelty of videoconferencing has been replaced by necessity, it has undeniably developed exponentially in terms of its execution capability.
The pandemic has also brought to the forefront the next generation, who became more involved in the operational side of the family office structure. By their generational capacity to easily manage and leverage technologies to improve operations, digital natives have been key to family office transformation. More than ever, the next generation is willing to convince past generations of the need to build a solid, digitally-focused infrastructure and is committed to transform some of the well established family office processes and models.
The advantages of tech-savvy advisers
Execution tech in the form of e-signing software such as DocuSign has undoubtedly kept transactions moving. Trustees and administrators with good in-house tech teams have been well positioned to roll this out in the early part of the pandemic as part of their disaster recovery plan. In addition, robust and agile home working plans and the portability of the business infrastructure helped keep everyone online and working with minimal downtime.
A good Trustee is one which can react quickly to the challenges that families face in times of worry and uncertainly, and whilst staying close to clients during difficult periods, on and off screen.
Contact Charlotte Murtagh, Head of Private Office for more information.
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