(Bloomberg News) The number of family offices, which manage investments and personal needs for wealthy families, is set to triple in Asia within the next decade, outpacing growth in other regions, according to Citigroup Inc.
There are likely to be 1,500 family offices within the next 7 to 10 years, from 500, which include those in the process of being set up, said Richard Straus, Asia-Pacific head of global family office and institutions at Citigroup's private-banking unit. Worldwide, there are about 6,000 family offices, whose tasks may include estate planning, philanthropy and lifestyle management such as maintaining homes and yachts, he said.
"Considering the amount of wealth in Asia, the region is very much underrepresented in terms of the number of family offices, so we see Asia as having the largest potential for growth," Straus, who is based in Hong Kong, said in an interview in Singapore.
Wealth in Asia, excluding Japan, is expected to rise at about double the global rate of almost 6 percent through the next five years, the Boston Consulting Group said in a May 31 report. Asia's ranks of ultra-high-net-worth individuals, defined as those with $30 million or more of investable assets, increased 15 percent in 2010, faster than millionaires with at least $1 million of investable assets, according to a report by Capgemini SA and Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management.
Families with a net worth of $100 million are in the best position to set up a family office because of the costs involved in running it, Straus said. His team works with family offices to provide services that range from trust and estate planning from Citigroup's private banking unit to corporate finance advice from the bank.
The first family office was established in the U.S. by oil baron John D. Rockefeller in 1882 to manage his family's assets.
Much of the wealth in Asia was created after World War II and many of these ageing entrepreneurs now need to decide on how to pass on their business and financial assets to the next generation, Straus said. In many countries in Asia, family businesses are still being run by the first generation of entrepreneurs, he said.
"However, many of these first generation entrepreneurs outside China are now in their 70s and 80s and many of them have children who are getting involved in the business," Straus said. "It's a very interesting phase in terms of the maturity of the wealth."
Family offices from the U.S., and western and central Europe are keen to set up shop in Asia, particularly in Singapore, Straus said.