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Family matters

26 June 2024

Family office and wealth management is a delicate and ever changing area. Over my 25-year tenure in this field, I’ve witnessed the evolution of risk and regulatory frameworks, but the core principle of client service and trustworthiness has remained the same.

Family office and wealth management is a delicate and ever changing area. Over my 25-year tenure in this field, I’ve witnessed the evolution of risk and regulatory frameworks, but the core principle of client service and trustworthiness has remained the same.


The client is always at the core of our work. Each family is unique with its priorities, dynamics and complexities that can change across the generations. What remains consistent is the need for confidence in their trustees and advisors. This trust is not just about financial transactions; it’s about understanding the family’s ethos, values and goals.


Effective communication is the bedrock of trust. Forming relationships with clients and their families or business partners, and understanding their needs and requirements is fundamental. Through open communication and genuine understanding, we can ensure that the family’s needs and desires are met with precision and care.


Guernsey has a strong reputational, legal and regulatory framework that can be relied upon by fiduciaries or clients alike. A robust regulatory framework provides the scaffolding upon which this trust is built, and it’s the human element of trust forged through personal interactions that truly underpins the success of any wealth management organisation.


It’s not insignificant to hand over control of your assets to someone else. The people are key, and getting the right staff is crucial to smooth operations. In Fort’s case, remaining privately owned after 50 years is a testament to this. We operate with families who have been with us since the 1970s. It’s about longevity and maintaining that trust with a positive relationship that can adapt to the generational transfer of wealth.


As we look ahead, markets are preparing for what people are calling the greatest wealth transfer in history with an estimated $84 trillion in assets set to change hands over the next 20 years, as estimated by Cerulli Associates. This presents both opportunities and challenges for families and their trusted advisors. The role of the trustee becomes even more critical in navigating this transition seamlessly.


Generational wealth transfer involves more than just the transfer of assets; it encompasses passing down values, traditions and the family legacy. Trustees must be attuned to the unique needs, aspirations and differing interests of each generation while preserving the family’s wealth and integrity. In navigating generational wealth transfer, trustees must be aware of evolving family dynamics, changing financial landscapes and shifting regulatory environments. Communication remains paramount, not only between the trustee and the current generation but also among different family members and stakeholders.  


Open dialogue facilitates the alignment of goals and expectations, ensuring a smooth transition of assets and responsibilities. Additionally, trustees must remain vigilant to emerging trends and technologies that may impact wealth management practices in the future.


Understanding and mitigating risk is another crucial aspect of our work. From preserving wealth to exploring growth opportunities, at Fort, we tailor our strategies to suit each family’s circumstances and objectives. Our independence allows us the flexibility to form partnerships that best serve our clients’ interests, both locally and internationally.


The ever-changing landscape presents both challenges and opportunities, keeping our work engaging and fulfilling. Family is usually the driver behind all of our lives and it’s a privilege to work in support of someone else’s family unit.


Key takeaways:

  • Family is at the centre: Prioritise client needs and values

  • Communication is vital: Open communications and interpersonal skills is key for meeting and understanding the family’s needs

  • People matter: Selecting the right staff is vital for smooth operations and trust building

  • The Great Wealth transfer: Trustees must adapt to evolving dynamics, preserve legacy, and manage risks.

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