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Phil Wickenden: Building the new family office

People who change the world aren’t necessarily the ones with the most talent. They aren’t even the ones that practice the most. The people who change the world see what others don’t. The connection economy isn’t driven by talent the way the industrial economy was. What we value now is the bravery needed to develop a unique perspective and then act on it.

Against a backdrop of near permanent change and uncertainty, there has never been a better time to work with professionals. Solicitors and accountants are more open to working with financial advisers for a couple of big reasons:

  1. Regulatory framework. This has changed enormously, with the Legal Services Act and the Jackson Review a while back;
  2. Work availability. With less work about, professionals are far more receptive to ideas from planners.

In particular, there is a growing opportunity from the emergence of “mid-tier millionaires”, who do not know whom to trust.

Historically, the top law firms felt they had entitlement, but things have changed. These clients are less prepared to deal with big lawyers, with their horrendous charge-outs and models predicated on pushing work to the lowest point.

Equally, mid-tier millionaires do not want to be put in boxes. They now typically have three pots of money and different risk objectives for each:

  1. Protect and preserve;
  2. Intergenerational planning;
  3. Money to run DIY portfolios.

Given the growing disenchantment of this demographic not just with impersonal legal firms but also with what they perceive to be unresponsive, inflexible private banks, there is a huge opportunity to build a solution focused on servicing them. But getting it right requires:

  • Careful articulation of a very well-defined proposition. The narrower the message, the further it goes with professionals;
  • A well-connected ecosystem (lawyers, accountants, property services, insurance brokers, business transfer agents, and private banks for lending facilities);
  • Robust processes to deal with the most challenging element: the emotional dynamics.

Over to you…

Phil Wickenden is a consultant

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