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Family offices to be more popular among millionaires

By Zhou Lanxu | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2020-01-08 21:56
[Photo/VCG]

As individuals with significant wealth in China are entering their mid-50s and seeking services for the maintenance of their family's wealth, the business of family offices has a great deal of growth potential in the next decade, according to a report released on Wednesday.

"Family offices" refers to private offices dedicated to managing the affairs of a family with considerable wealth, providing a wide range of services such as wealth management, charitable giving, legal services and tax planning.

A total of 64 percent of the Chinese families surveyed by the report —with an average net wealth of 6.5 billion yuan ($940 million) — said their primary wealth management vehicle is a family office, with over three-quarters of them starting to use the offices after 2010.

Interest over family offices grew in particular during the past two years: about one-third reported they began using family office services in 2018 or in the first eight months of last year.

The Chinese Family Office and Wealth Management Report 2020 was jointly released on Wednesday by Campden Wealth, UBS, FOTT, and AVIC Trust, which all serve high net-worth families. The report was based on a survey conducted last year and with 76 respondents.

Behind the rapidly rising demand for family offices in China is the fact numerous ultra-wealthy individuals who benefited from the country's fast economic growth are now entering their mid-50s and considering inheritance and succession planning, the report said.

The institutions that released the survey believed the industry of family offices in China will grow at a faster pace in the future, as more ultra-high-net-worth Chinese families will emerge in high-tech sectors, high-end manufacturing, and the upgrade of traditional industries.

Fan Xiaoman, founder of FOTT, said the complexity of the global environment also drives the demand for family offices, and assets under management at family offices in China may exceed 20 trillion yuan by the next decade.

The survey also found the qualified supply of family office services in China may be in a shortfall at present, which may present meaningful business opportunities for both domestic and foreign industry players.

"In terms of external service providers, the majority of families expressed that, in general, they are difficult to find," the report read, citing the lack of reliable advice on the best service providers for particular transactions and the families' fear external service providers will improperly use their information.

Zhang Qiong, president of UBS (China), said UBS AG is actively leveraging and will continue to invest in its banking and securities ventures in China to provide wealth management services for Chinese clients and cater to their growing needs of global asset allocation.

The vast majority of surveyed families said they consider international investments. Moreover, Chinese respondents showed a higher risk appetite, as 44 percent of them have adopted a growth-oriented investment strategy versus 25 percent globally.

During the 12 months prior to their date of participation, the surveyed Chinese family offices earned an average portfolio return of 11 percent, higher than the 5.4 percent globally, according to the report.

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