What Is a Family Office?

by Cherion Sibley, CPA, CFP ®

In the late 1800’s, John D. Rockefeller established the first known modern-day “family office.” In its earliest form, the Rockefeller family office served to coordinate the management of the family’s businesses, philanthropy, and growing investment needs by establishing a group of advisors working together as a unified team for the family. The structure shifted the management of the Rockefeller wealth from singular entities and assets to a consolidated investment portfolio, creating more control and clarity surrounding the family’s wealth. Over time, this structure has become a model for families of varying wealth levels that wish to have a unified approach to passing family wealth and values along to future generations.

In an ever-growing world of complexity, many families are realizing the benefits of bringing all aspects of the family together under one umbrella. A family of significant wealth may establish a “single-family office” made up of one or more entities that serve the purpose of guiding the family toward specific personal and financial goals. A single-family office often maintains a dedicated staff of employees which focuses solely on the needs of one family. It may concentrate on one specific need, such as investment management, or it may serve to organize and manage wide-ranging aspects of the family’s financial and personal needs and wishes.

A single-family office can provide a family the ultimate control and customization of its financial affairs and multi-generational planning. However, it is a very complex and expensive structure to maintain and manage, making it inaccessible for many families. For families that may not have the net worth to justify establishing a single-family office, or for the ultra-high net worth family that may want many of the benefits of a single-family office without the expense and administrative burden, there is another option. The BMSS Family Office group can serve as your family office.

The highly qualified professionals within the BMSS Family Office group can provide the customized structure each family needs to manage its family-owned businesses, financial planning, investments, and communication of family legacy. We do not have to disrupt the relationships you have established with your other trusted advisors. We will work alongside your advisors including your attorney, investment advisor and others to best serve the needs of your family.The BMSS Family Office group consists of experts in many areas that serve families. Here are just a few of the services we provide:

  • Strategic planning focused on the family-owned business. Our Family Business Advisory services include operational and business continuity planning, strategic tax planning, ownership succession planning, risk management, value maximization strategies, leadership development and management transition planning, conflict resolution, and business legacy planning.
  • Comprehensive, multi-generational, personal financial planning services including cash management, investment planning, domestic and international tax planning, estate planning, risk management analysis, and foreign asset planning.
  • Legacy planning which encompasses family wealth transfer planning, next-generation stewardship education, philanthropic objectives, and family meeting facilitation.
  • Concierge services including payment of bills for family entities and individuals, family document management, cash flow management, and consolidated financial reporting for family-owned assets.

We realize that no two families are alike. Therefore, our services are highly customized to each family we serve. We will bundle our services into an offering that best fits the needs of your family. Peace of mind comes from knowing that you have a plan in place to wisely steward your family’s businesses, wealth and values. The BMSS Family Office group will strive to provide you with the expertise and counsel to guide you as you leave a legacy for future generations.