Multi-Family Office: A new paradigm of Trust for Investors (Part 1)
Following the 2008 crisis and market concerns about the massive government bailout of major banks due to their risky assets, many clients and wealthy families began to review the basis of their working relationship with their banks, wealth managers and advisory firms. These market events led to a serious loss of confidence in the financial system in general, and better informed investors have begun to express concerns about how to trust financial institutions.
Companies claiming to offer investment and wealth management services abound. However, it has never been more difficult to find the right company, – one that can be implicitly trusted to manage assets and guide clients or their families on the right path now and for future generations.
However, the nature of trust can be difficult to assess and quantify; but it is the foundation of well-functioning markets. Nowhere is this more evident than in the financial services sectors.
While investor confidence in financial securities markets is usually good, Financial Services are the least reliable sectors among various industries, according to a recent survey.
Another recent investor survey conducted by the CFA Institute in late 2017 could not agree more. The global survey showed that the most important attribute for choosing an advisor was whether he or she would act in the best interests of the client, followed by whether the advisor was recommended by a trusted contact (see graph below). Clients consistently rank trust as the biggest differentiator in hiring an investment advisor.
Trust also contributes to a client referring others or expanding the relationship with additional mandates. In an industry where revenue is now more motivated by client retention than client acquisition, the value of trust should not be underestimated as a competitive advantage.
We all know that we need trust to make our partnership work. But what is trust, how do we define it, and what are the components of trust? To help us understand, here is Cambridge’s definition: “to believe or have confidence that someone is good and honest and will not harm you, or that something is safe and reliable”.
However, trusting a financial professional is perhaps much more complex than a definition, as it involves a sequence of successful events over time that translate into the perception of value in relation to an outcome.
Investors’ expectations are changing and for most investors, trust is now an essential element of the code of conduct when choosing to work with wealth management firms.
To address these concerns, multi-family offices (MFOs) have emerged as true providers of trust to clients by developing credibility and demonstrating professionalism.
The level of trust is especially important for families who run significant businesses. An independent advisor, working closely with the family, will be able to develop a trusting relationship and provide better financial and strategic assistance. Trust is crucial, as advisors often gain in-depth insight into the business and family’s finances.
In this article, we will seek to better understand the basis of investor confidence and why it is the cornerstone of client satisfaction and the cornerstone of the trust relationship between wealthy families and independent professional advisors.
Among the many factors that contribute to trust, credibility is everything to investors. Without credibility, everything that is said to investors, partners or even employees can be questioned. Credibility can be one of the most important intangible assets in the financial industry. Credibility factors are relatively simple to evaluate and include reputation and credentials. Reputation is the barometer by which others judge and perceive you and, by extension, your company. It can boost a company’s ability to attract new customers, attract partners, and hire the best employees. But, there is no credibility without credentials. Investors need some assurance that your investment advisory firm is a reliable source and that it is professionally accredited to provide the required service successfully.
Oversight of financial regulators is essential, because their mission is to guide all stakeholders away from undesirable actions and towards desired ones. It is of the utmost importance to know if a financial firm operates with the appropriate regulatory licenses and with the required team of professionals. Most of our clients accept regulation and choose to actively work with us as OMF for the various regulated entities that make up our group.
It also helps us improve our reputation and facilitate dealing with counterparties due to the extensive due diligence process.
When considering hiring an advisor or firm, investors want to deal with trusted professionals who have both the desired values and the skills. Factors of professionalism include proficiency in subject matter knowledge, and values such as putting clients’ interests first and having some empathy while displaying a fiduciary mindset. In essence, a professional is someone who can demonstrate the quality of being trustworthy and secure. He or she can act with excellent abilities and behave in the way you expect, with a commitment to ethical conduct.
Finance companies don’t have fixed assets, like equipment or inventory. They are made up of intangible assets: people. And successful firms are specifically made up of highly professional individuals called experts. Why is it important to have experts with good credentials and experience? Because it is essential to have a clear understanding of which professional within an organization has the right set of skills to provide the services that add value to investors. Ultimately, it translates into productivity, operational efficiency, and cost savings for the customer.
In its 2017 survey, the CFA Institute found that 73% of retail investors believe that professionals with established and qualified licenses help increase confidence in an individual or business’s ability to provide valuable services. Qualifications and professional history, including education, training, and licenses, as well as any special certifications, are essential when hiring a consultant or company.
Independent MFOs are first and foremost a group of professional experts who add value to their members by recruiting and retaining the best-accredited professionals who work in the best interest of their clients with full transparency.
Today’s wealthy clients and families have a myriad of options for managing their affairs; But when choosing a financial institution, you should explore the alternatives and choose professionals who share the same value as families; the trust.
CEO & Founding partner
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