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Family Office - 5 Coaching Focus Areas For Success

Updated: Feb 22, 2022

My specialisms as an Executive Coach cover Financial Services, Banking and Family Office. Family Offices are one of the fastest-growing phenomena in Asia. Family Offices are financial services platforms looking after the assets (money) of the richest people in the world.

For people on the outside, working with High Net Worth (HNW) and Ultra High Net Worth (UHNW) clients must seem like the ultimate of the elite. On the inside working with Family Offices from an Executive Coaching perspective is fascinating, challenging and rewarding.

There is little unbiased research on Family Offices. In fact, a paper in 2020 showed that the current literature is inconsistent and Family Office trends and facts are difficult to quantify. There is even less research on behavioural trends and characteristics of those in successful Family Offices. Unlike MNCs and other corporate businesses, Family Offices are run as family-owned companies. As the people within these offices are looking after the future assets of the family and their legacy which they will be passing down to their children, the employees within these businesses need to understand that trust is the highest requirement as well as loyalty. The people within these offices often become family friends and confidantes. Of course, you need to have the capability to do the jobs you are hired for, however, attitude and your ability to build relationships is of high importance as well. Your emotional intelligence and how you integrate into the business is key.

Understanding the culture of the Family Office is important. Are they a collaborative, harmonious culture where they treat their people as an extended family? Are they a fast-moving, second-generation culture that needs innovation, experimentation and people who like change?

If your family is hierarchical, do you have the ability to work with an organization that has a pyramid shape? Usually traditional and with multiple management layers?

If you are a Family Office hiring, you need to know your culture well. As well as competencies, what type of cultural fit works well within your organisation?

Below are 5 key areas for focus when you are moving into a Family Office, especially, when coming from a larger bank, financial services organisation or other larger company.

Be relationship focused

Family Offices are born and grown from relationships. This is going to be key within the organisation. Understanding the culture of the family and then knowing how to communicate effectively with the people in the organisation as well as be excellent at your job is going to be required for you to succeed. When you are first entering a Family Office, observe, learn and create alliances.

Be solutions-focused

Of course, there are always problems that need to be acknowledged, but really learning to be focused on solutions and offering them as the greater part of a conversation rather than dwelling on issues is important. If you have a problem, mention it and then look towards what can be done and possibilities to move forward to success.

Work independently where needed, but collaboratively

Innovate, have ideas, be prepared to have them embraced and rejected. You need to have a degree of resilience. Take some decisions, but learn that things may change on a day to day basis and you need to be adaptable and flexible enough to work with this, especially with Family Offices which are fast-moving with new ideas. You can take initiative when the ideas are valid and for the benefit of the platform. Be careful with your ego, becoming too confident with driving initiatives forward and make sure you have the buy-in from all Family Members where possible before acting.

Be straight talking with carefully chosen language patterns

If you have something to say, or you think something is a bad idea, then say it, but use your language carefully and learn to coach your family members and surrounding key people through to a decision rather than telling them what you think is right or wrong. Being honest will hold a level of respect, but you need to be able to deliver a message effectively, intelligently and without confrontation. Use your EQ to know when to bring up certain subjects. Timing can be important and also your audience which is present at the time. Taking someone aside and talking privately may hold more weight than bringing something up in public.

Be “on-call”

It goes without saying that if you are an essential part of the team, you may need to be there outside of hours to help out. Remember, you may be considered an extension of the family and therefore needed evenings and weekends to bounce ideas off or help find solutions during an emergency.

In conclusion, one thing to remember is that you can never compare any other job you have had to working with a Family Office. It will suit some and not suit others. The lines between your home life and work-life may blur as you become a trusted confidante. However, it can be ultimately rewarding.

If you are in a Family Office and hiring, think about the EQ and cultural fit of the people as well as competencies in order to grow with harmony.

Caroline Langston is the Co-Founder of Successful Consultants Ltd, an Executive, Personal and Career Development Coaching company in Hong Kong and New York. She is also the Founder of a nonprofit providing free information and coaching to people who are unemployed. Caroline is dedicated to coaching people for success and happiness in their careers and lives. She is degree qualified with a Certificate in Professional Coaching Mastery from the ICF, Certificate in Team Coaching from the EMCC. Also further certifications in Neuro Linguistic Programming at Master Practitioner and Coach


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