Article provided by Emma Lejeune who represents the Gibraltar Bar Council (http://www.barcouncil.gi/) on the Gibraltar Finance Centre Council, a body for which she also serves as Deputy Chair.
There comes a time in any entrepreneur’s life when the wealth they have built from their business accumulates to the extent that it almost becomes a business within itself in terms of management. Investments need to be closely monitored and continuously updated. New opportunities need to be considered and old commitments revisited. Financial statements need to be prepared on assets, together with any compliance matters related to those assets including tax and other reporting obligations. Dealing with personal wealth can consume an enormous amount of time and it is often difficult to keep track of all your affairs, particularly if these are held in various jurisdictions.
The remedy for this administrative headache will often take the form of a Family Office established to employ a number of finance individuals, investments advisors and administrators to assist the principal and his/her family with the proper management and administration of their wealth. This helps shift the burden from the family to the Family Office who will maintain records and be able to report on an overview of all assets cross border. Depending on the type of setup, the Family Office will also be heavily involved in overseeing the various financial investments made by the family and seek out new opportunities for the family to invest in. Some Family Offices may have self-managed funds within their portfolio of invested assets.
The setup will be very individual, tailored to suit the needs of the principal and the family or heirs. It is a useful succession tool in addition to being an administrative machine, aiding transition and the passing on of wealth from generation to generation. The Family Office will be a cost centre engaging with family entities. It can also serve as a useful source of information.
Larger families may consider incorporating a family governance structure around their Family Office arrangements. This could include the establishment of an informal family council (or formal in certain circumstances) comprised of family members who will in turn liaise with the Family Office on matters concerning them. A family council can serve as a useful forum for communication between family members and the education of next generations. It is common for family councils to meet once or twice a year at a gathering of all family members where events may be organised related to the family wealth.
A Family Office can be as small or as large as is required. It can service one family or more, the latter being established as a Multi-Family Office. It should be noted that a Multi-Family Office based in Gibraltar that is providing investment advice to multiple families, would be required to be licenced by the Gibraltar Financial Services Commission.
Gibraltar is an attractive jurisdiction for the establishment of a Family Office. It benefits from a pool of experts with a range of roles suitable for employment within a Family Office entity. Its thriving fiduciary business also allows for the establishment of family asset holding entities as well as providing a host of trustee and directors available within the local market. Gibraltar is also a reputed international financial centre often used by resident non-domiciled individuals to establish their structures as part of their tax planning within the UK.
Situated alongside the Mediterranean, its sunny climate and British culture makes it an attractive place for individuals to relocate and set up their family lives. This allows families to attract talented individuals from anywhere in the world and relocate them to Gibraltar to serve within their Family Office structure.
Gibraltar benefits from the common law system and its laws largely follow those of the United Kingdom. A self-governing jurisdiction that is politically stable and continues to enjoy a thriving economy.
Historically Gibraltar has and continues to be a popular jurisdiction of choice for ultra-high net worth individuals and high net worth individuals who seek to take up residency in Gibraltar. It is also popular with entrepreneurs who seek to establish their financial businesses in a common law financial centre.
The beauty of establishing a Family Office is that it is not necessary to have this setup in the same jurisdiction as the principal or family live. Often family members live in various locations globally and therefore it is difficult to determine which jurisdiction should be a preferred one for the establishment of the Family Office. Establishing in Gibraltar is not only cost effective, but it is relatively easy. The Family Office can interact with entities and advisors established around the world and keep a centralised record of a family’s assets.