Angelo Robles is the founder & CEO of the Family Office Association, among the world’s most respected membership organizations dedicated to single-family offices. He is the host of “The Angelo Robles Podcast” on Apple, Spotify and YouTube. Through memberships and consultative engagements, the Family Office Association helps the world’s most successful families create modern, multigenerational dynamic, international single-family offices that are digitally savvy and identify exponential opportunities and hazards in becoming truly anti-fragile.

Prince: Can you please explain why single-family office leaders join the Family Office Association?
Robles: Single-family offices join the Family Office Association for a diverse number of reasons. Topping the list is a desire to learn best practices. As an organization exclusively composed of family members and professionals responsible for delivering exceptional results to successful families, the ability to share what works and why is very powerful.

Let me be honest. The draw of the Family Office Association is not me. It’s the membership and the willingness of the members to openly share and help each other. Thankfully, we have an amazing membership including some of the wealthiest and most sophisticated single-family offices in the world.

Over the years, we’ve refined and expanded how the members can learn from each other as well as learn from some of the most capable and renowned experts in the private wealth industry. Examples of this include monthly digital and in person global events, handbooks and masterclasses on different best practices, such as creating an international single-family office and what it takes to create a sustainable family dynasty, and how to mitigate sovereign, inflation and currency risks.

For a growing number of members the focus is on becoming anti-fragile. For some it is on accessing the deepest resources in the community concerning cryptocurrencies and digital assets. For many single-family offices the emphasis is on the changing landscape of investing, while for others it’s on the latest legally sanctioned ways to mitigate—if not eliminate—taxes.

Putting it all together, single-family office leaders join the Family Office Association to be able learn from each other and renowned private wealth industry authorities so they can do a better job for the families they work for. We find that those members who take advantage of all that the association offers, especially the peer-to-peer opportunities to learn what works and what doesn’t work so well, are able to significantly raise the bar. Not only do they do a better job for their families, they’re usually rewarded well for doing so.

Prince: What are some of the biggest concerns of single-family offices today?
Robles: Not surprisingly, different single-family offices tend to highlight different concerns. The 80,000-foot answer is making sure the family is well taken care of. Moving to ground level this takes on a lot of different forms.

Some single-family offices have been shocked by the limitations they faced due to the pandemic. This is sparking many of them to stress test their disaster responses as well as stress test their overall investment strategy and wealth planning. For a smaller percentage of members, the matter of possible sovereign confiscation, including rising taxes and the potential for inflation rates are high on their list of issues. Along the same lines, the possibility of significant political or civil unrest is a factor.

For the super-rich, the true inflation rate is above 15%. We find that most single-family offices are not investing assertively enough for long-term growth. Moreover, only a small portion of them are taking action to blend sophisticated wealth planning with high-quality investment management, resulting in meaningfully greater after-tax returns.

Prince: What’ are some major weaknesses of many single family offices?
Robles: Let me put it this way…it's the bus you don't see that gets you. A large percentage of single-family offices are not attuned to the risks potentially impacting the family and are therefore not taking action to address these risks.

We find, for example, with the strong interest in cryptocurrencies, that families and the professionals in their single-family offices would often be well served if they deeply question their assumptions about ownership of physical and digital assets, portfolio management and asset allocation practices where wealth preservation, wealth transfer, asset provenance and verification, authentication, attestation, attribution and identity can be forensically proven. This way wealth protection and risks associated with the governance, compliance, regulatory, sovereign and cyber risks are mitigated and prevented. The vast majority of family offices fall short in managing these risks and their current advisors are usually clueless in protecting clients.

One of the most glaring weakness among many single-family offices is a lack of true understanding on the objectives of the family. Many times there is a lack of alignment across the single-family office, their advisors and the principals/owners across a wide range of matters. For example, it’s not uncommon for their to be no clear understanding about preferred asset classes, time horizons and assumptions that underlie many investment decisions. 

For a complimentary PDF copy of The High-Functioning Single-Family Offices: A Primer for Family Members and Senior Management request the book from [email protected]