When Your Family Office Is More Like Your Family

For two brothers on California’s Central Coast, their Family Office became more than an investment advisor when they lost both parents.
The definitions and functions of a Multi-Family Office vary widely. Family Offices are private wealth management and advisory firms that work with high-net-worth individuals and families. The functions of a Multi-Family Office can range from simply managing a family’s investments, to providing a total outsourced solution for every aspect of a family’s wealth.  For families whose wealth is tied to a family business, the services and structure of a Family Office make managing financial affairs more convenient and efficient, as well as provide an added level of governance.
Sometimes the relationship between a Multi-Family Office and the families they work with can grow into much more. That is exactly what happened to one family when both parents died within months of each other, leaving two young boys and the family ranch behind.  
Ed, the boys’ father, had recently retired from a successful business. He and his wife moved with their two young kids to a ranch on the Central Coast of California. He was looking for a firm to help manage their assets. Sadly, Ed’s wife unexpectedly passed away soon after the move, so he was caring for the two boys on his own. Ed called Whittier Trust for a meeting about their Family Office services. 
“The meeting with Ed was all business with pointed questions about Whittier Trust’s investment approach, performance, and capabilities,” explained Susan, their Whittier Trust Client Advisor.
A Range of Family Office Services
Affluent families like Ed’s often look for a Multi-Family Office to manage more than their portfolio. A Family Office centralizes the management of every aspect of a family’s financial affairs, from day-to-day expenses to long-term legacy planning for future generations. The capabilities and services of a Multi-Family Office can vary widely but typically include some common areas. 
Family Offices often help affluent families meet the daily demands of managing their financial affairs, helping with items such as bill payment, payroll services for household staff, insurance reviews, cash flow analysis, fund transfers, and the centralized administration of documents and records. 
Family Offices coordinate with a family’s lawyers, accountants or advisors, facilitate family meetings and wealth education, manage financial documents, maintain records, and assist with family business succession planning, valuation, and governance. The more sophisticated Multi-Family Offices can also serve as trustee for the family for assets such as closely held businesses, real estate portfolios or other strategic assets. For families with philanthropic efforts, a Multi-Family Office can administer and help guide charitable giving efforts and estate planning.
Benefits of a Family Office for Family Businesses
The comprehensive suite of services offered by Family Offices offers particular benefits to families with a family-owned business. The close relationship between the financial management of the family business and the family’s personal wealth makes coordinating the various aspects of their finances even more important.  
A Family Office also provides for the centralization of record keeping and reporting, which can be particularly helpful for a family whose primary source of income is a family-owned business.  In addition, better coordination of business and family financial matters can result in more effective tax planning and other benefits that directly affect a family’s bottom line.
Not a Typical Client Relationship
Many affluent families find that the Multi-Family Office is a very close relationship, often with day-to-day interaction. Because of this unique connection, a Multi-Family Office such as Whittier Trust can play a role that goes far beyond portfolio management. That is exactly what happened in Ed’s relationship with Whittier Trust. 
That initial meeting between Ed and Whittier Trust took on a new urgency when Ed slipped Susan, his Whittier Trust Client Advisor, a typewritten note that explained he had terminal cancer and only months to live. It was time to make sure his affairs were in order. 
“After Ed passed me that note, we set aside the discussion about Whittier Trust’s services and our investment results, and I asked Ed what was the most important thing for him to know before his time came,” said Susan. “The conversation was pretty emotional, but his answer was simple. He wanted to know his boys’ lives would go on uninterrupted. That they could continue going to the school they loved, keep living on the ranch, and be taken care of by the housekeeper they knew and loved. He wanted to be sure that their future was secure.”
Over the course of the next few months, Whittier mapped out a detailed strategy so that Ed was secure in the knowledge that his sons would be well taken care of. They arranged for the boys’ nanny to live at the ranch to care for the boys and determined how the ranch would be run well into the future. Whittier Trust would help manage the family’s assets, but also play a larger role in ensuring Ed’s wishes were carried out. When Ed passed away, it was with confidence that his boys and their assets were in the best of hands.  
The relationship with Ed’s family was managed through Whittier Trust’s Family Office because they knew the family needs and could call on the right expertise as it was required.  It was more than that, though. Susan visited the ranch regularly to check on the boys and make sure the ranch was being managed properly. She oversaw renovations to the house and helped see to the boys’ education. This deep connection is the type of customized service and genuine care that exemplifies the Whittier Trust approach. 
Whittier Trust’s relationship with Ed’s boys has lasted more than three decades and continues to this day. They’ve done everything from continuing to manage the family assets and ranch, to helping the boys with college applications. While these are the range of services that fall within what is considered the function of a Family Office, for Ed’s two boys, it has been anything but typical.
The Family Office – A Wide Range of Services 
Client Administration
Family-Focused Services
Financial Services 
Estate Planning Strategies
Risk Management
Tax Strategies
Concierge Services
Benefits for a Family-Owned Business
Better coordination and transparency between business and family finances
Centralized record keeping and reporting
More strategic long-term planning for intergenerational wealth transfer
Smoother succession planning
More effective tax planning
Disclaimer: $10 million marketable securities and/or liquid assets required. Investment and Wealth Management Services are provided by Whittier Trust Company and The Whittier Trust Company of Nevada, Inc. (referred to herein individually and collectively as “WTC”), state-chartered trust companies wholly owned by Whittier Holdings, Inc. (“WHI”), a closely held holding company. This document is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended, and should not be construed, as investment, tax or legal advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results and no investment or financial planning strategy can guarantee profit or protection against losses. All names, characters, and incidents, except for certain incidental references, are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
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Investment and Wealth Management Services are provided by Whittier Trust Company and The Whittier Trust Company of Nevada, Inc., state-chartered trust companies, which are wholly owned by Whittier Holdings, Inc., a closely held holding company. All of said companies are referred to herein, individually and collectively, as “Whittier".

Certain information contained in this document may constitute “forward-looking statements.” No representations or warranties are made as to the accuracy or completeness of such statements, and actual events or results may differ materially from those reflected or contemplated. This document is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended, and should not be construed, as investment, tax or legal advice. Please consult your own legal and/or tax advisers in connection with financial decisions. This document does not purport to be a complete statement of approaches, which may vary due to individual factors and circumstances. Company references are provided for illustrative purposes only and should not be construed as investment advice or a recommendation to purchase, sell or hold any security. Although the information provided is carefully reviewed, Whittier cannot be held responsible for any direct or incidental loss resulting from applying any of the information provided. Past performance is no guarantee of future results and no investment or financial planning strategy can guarantee profit or protection against losses. These materials may not be reproduced or distributed without Whittier’s prior written consent.