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Single Family Office Best Practice Checklist

Single family offices are living entities that must evolve as the families they serve grow, adding new generations. We must have a consistent way to respond to industry trends, changes in the investment landscape, technology advances and family needs. To help single family offices navigate, we have created the Family Office Association Family Office Checklist. By consulting with our members, industry experts, thought leaders, and professionals in a variety of fields, we have drafted an invaluable asset for creating and innovating the family office. 

Who is the checklist for?

The checklist can be used by a family office of any size to evaluate its current effectiveness and efficiency. While the solutions for your family office will vary based on your individual needs, this checklist will provide a guide for observing and reevaluating the critical components of your family office. There is value in having a checklist of the important tasks/considerations that should be done regularly. There will always be a need, especially in large or complicated family offices, to consult with experts and specialists. This document, however, provides the rubric for understanding what to look for and which questions are worth asking. Building the perfect family office isn’t something that’s done in a day…it evolves over time with great care and consideration. We hope this checklist provides insight and help when wading through the complexity of your SFO. Family Office Association members have free access to the checklist. 

What's Inside?

In this 40-page guide, you will find an actionable checklist of items for evaluating your own family office. The checklist will stimulate thought, encourage discussion, and help you uncover potential weaknesses that should be addressed. There are three main sections to the checklist: Section 1: Understanding the Family; Section 2: The Single Family Office Mechanics; and Section 3: Organizational Considerations. Each of these sections contains a detailed checklist of items for review/consideration in line with industry best practices. In addition to the annual review checklist, you will find helpful resources for pursuing more details on each topic - including videos, podcasts, white papers, and research available on Family Office Association.com. 

SECTION 1: UNDERSTANDING THE FAMILY

Single Family Offices exist to serve the families which founded them. Over time, families change, priorities shift, new members are added, businesses change, and the world in which we operate evolves. In light of these shifts, it is important to continuously strive to understand the family. This section includes: 

  • Family Mission and Value
  • Family Governance Structure
  • Family Legacy
  • Family Culture, Brand, and Reputation
  • Lifestyle and Care Services
  • Family Member Information
  • Education the Next Generation in Families of Wealth

SECTION 2: SINGLE FAMILY OFFICE MECHANICS

The number one question that the Single Family Office should continuously ask of itself is, “Is this the most efficient and effective way to serve our family?” This question should be asked in a number of ways across a variety of services and functions that you will find in the list that follows. By aligning goals and measurement plans to the family’s interests, the family office will prove itself valuable for years to come. When this alignment breaks, the question may become “is it time to dissolve the family office?” By using this checklist and being proactive about the value-add to your family office, you will never be in this position, but will instead continue to shift and grow to accommodate your family’s needs. 

  • Family Mission and Value
  • Family Governance Structure
  • Family Legacy
  • Family Culture, Brand, and Reputation
  • Lifestyle and Care Services

SECTION 3: ORGANIZATIONAL CONSIDERATIONS

The organizational considerations for your family office are the methods you employ to execute the vision and strategies of the family. As Matt Wesley rephrased the popular saying, “Culture eats structures for breakfast,” it’s important to understand that good structure must be responsive to changes in family culture.

At its inception, your family office will have carefully crafted protocols around taxes, estate planning, investment management, accounting, risk management, technology, auditing and philanthropy. Changes in the family dynamics, regulations, asset value and more require a continuous reevaluation of the protocols and procedures around meeting the family’s needs.

This section will walk you through the basic topics that should be reviewed and addressed to ensure your organization continues to serve its mission.

  • Family Office Legal Mechanisms
  • Family Office Tax Strategy
  • Estate Planning
  • Investment Management
  • Accounting & Financial Reporting
  • Risk Management
  • SFO Technology
  • Auditing
  • SFO Technology