Exploring a secretive organization: What can we learn about family offices from the public sphere?

Decker, Carolin and Lange, Knut S.G. (2013). Exploring a secretive organization: What can we learn about family offices from the public sphere? Organizational Dynamics, 42(4) pp. 298–306.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.orgdyn.2013.07.008

Abstract

When Bloomberg published its 2010 ranking of the “Top 50 Family Offices”, it showed that they had nearly 500 billion dollars under management. A broad, global audience became aware of this specific type of organization, which is growing in importance. Family offices usually remain unnoticed because they tend to avoid publicity. Since the financial crisis, family offices have become strong competitors for institutions dedicated to private and investment banking. Their economic power may further increase in the coming years: first, Capgemini and Merrill Lynch assert that the number of wealthy individuals with investable assets exceeding 30 million dollars is steadily growing. Second, family offices benefit from the erosion of trust in established financial institutions on the part of wealth owners.
Consider the example of SandAire, which was founded in London in 1996 by Alexander Scott. His family had generated a huge fortune by selling its fourth-generation family business, Provincial Insurance, in 1994. Scott had a strong motivation: protecting and preserving his family’s wealth. After some years, he opened SandAire to other families. They were attracted by Scott’s first-hand experience and neutral advice in managing family issues and preserving wealth.
We explore the business press from three countries over the period from 2000 to 2010 to provide a deeper understanding of family offices.

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