A majority of trust and estate planning professionals are reporting an increase in the number of single-family offices, according to a survey conducted by Tiedemann Advisors. 

Tiedemann surveyed 150 attendees at the Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning conference, held in Orlando, Fla., from January 13-17, 2020.

More than half of all trust and estate planning professionals surveyed (57%) said there was an increase in the number of single-family offices being formed in recent years. 

About a third of the participants (31%) attributed the growth to the wide range of services that single-family offices provide to ultra-high-net-worth families, which 12% of respondents said traditional wealth management firms and private banks did not offer, while nearly a quarter of attendees (23%) attributed the growth of ultra-high-net-worth single-family offices to clients that wanted more control over their future. A smaller number of respondents (8%) said they believed that ultra-rich families wanted a family office to operate as a cost center for the extended family and to provide ancillary services, such as employee management.

Successful single-family offices must not only provide an eclectic range of services to their ultra-high-net-worth clients, they must also be socially conscious stewards of their clients’ investment portfolios, according to the survey’s findings.

The survey found that more than three-quarters of trust and estate planning professionals (78%) said their clients were interested in incorporating impact and sustainable investing as part of their overall wealth plans. Within that group, 57% reported that clients were “very” interested, while 12% said their clients didn’t have a preference one way or the other.

Ultra-wealthy clients not only expect single-family offices to also provide a unique range of services, but also reassurance in a climate of political uncertainty, the survey found. More than half (51%) of trust and estate planning professionals said that many of their ultra-high-net-worth clients were concerned about the 2020 election cycle and how its outcome might impact their finances.

According to Jim Bertles, managing director at Tiedemann Advisors and head of the firm’s office in Palm Beach, Fla., the antidote to political uncertainty is a robust and thorough estate plan, prepared in the early stages of an election, that protects assets against future tax law changes and adverse political outcomes. 

“Regardless of election results, the reality of the growing budget deficit is that tax revenues will need to increase, so we encourage clients to implement tax planning strategies sooner, rather than later, to mitigate any potential negative effects on their estates,” he said in a news release announcing the survey’s findings.

Tiedemann Advisors, founded in 1999 as a New York City-based trust company, is one of the nation’s largest independent investment and wealth advisors.