Practice Areas & Industries: Withers Bergman LLP


Family Office & Family Business Return to Practice Areas & Industries

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Practice/Industry Group Overview

The meaning of Family Office is still fluid. A family office may be an entity set up to run a family's affairs which has separate legal personality from the family. It may just be a place where the family administers its affairs or it may be a network of employees and advisors in a number of different places who work together to run the family's investments.

Globally, it is thought that there are 11,000 family offices in existence - with 2,500 to 3,000 in the US a further 2,500 in Europe, and 200 in Australia. This number is expected to grow in time, as the needs of wealthy families become more complex.

Having looked after successful people, their families and advisers for over 100 years, we have real insight into the concerns of wealthy families. This insight helps us when we assist our clients to set up and operate their family offices.

From its origins, advising the English gentry on the running of their estate offices, our family office practice has evolved and expanded so that we now act for global families with complex cross-border interests.

We work on the establishment and governance of single and multi-family offices, and provide advice as they expand (and occasionally when they are wound up). In practice, the range of services performed by a family office can vary enormously, according to the family's vision. Whether the family office is large or small, domestic or international, we provide the comprehensive and integrated legal service required.

We advise on family office structure, governance, operations and dispute resolution, as well as on tax and wealth structuring issues. We have a dedicated funds, investment and tax team which consolidates our experience in setting up tax-efficient investment structures on and offshore. Typically, we work closely with other leading service providers in finance and investment, as well as accounting and taxation, property management, and other service areas vital to any family office.

We have an extensive client list, including traditional family estate offices in the UK and also in the Caribbean, US and Latin America, Dubai, Hong Kong and Singapore. In some cases clients have set up a network of offices worldwide to manage their international interests.

Additionally, we work with governments worldwide to enhance the regulatory environment for the wealth-holding structures used by family offices.

Recent work

  • Helping a number of international clients to set up offices - a reflection of growing demand for family offices.
  • Working with several internationally based family offices on complex global restructuring projects for the families.
  • Reviewing the structure and operations of several established family offices with the goal of providing recommendations for improving or expanding services provided.
  • Advising the holders of a significant stake in a recently listed company on the structuring of IPO proceeds and their retained shareholdings, as well as the formation of a family office, the UK tax treatment of further investments - in particular offshore funds and deep discounted securities, the establishment of a hedge fund, the acquisition of a private jet and private yacht and the formation of a charitable foundation.