Single-Family Offices

Written by True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

Reviewed by Subject Matter Experts

Updated on July 12, 2023

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What Are Single-Family Offices?

Single-family offices are privately owned organizations that cater exclusively to the wealth management and advisory needs of an ultra-high-net-worth (UHNW) family.

These offices provide a range of financial and non-financial services tailored to the unique requirements and preferences of the family.

The concept of single-family offices dates back to the 19th century when wealthy families, such as the Rockefellers, established private offices to manage their wealth and personal affairs.

Over time, single-family offices have evolved to address the increasing complexity of managing significant wealth and the diverse needs of UHNW families.

Services Provided by Single-Family Offices

Investment Management

Portfolio Management

Single-family offices provide bespoke portfolio management services, including asset allocation, investment selection, and performance monitoring, to help clients achieve their financial goals.

Risk Assessment and Management

Risk assessment and management services assist clients in identifying, evaluating, and mitigating potential risks associated with their investment portfolios.

Alternative Investments

Single-family offices often facilitate access to alternative investments, such as private equity, hedge funds, real estate, and collectibles, to diversify clients' portfolios and enhance returns.

Financial Planning

Tax Planning

Tax planning services help clients minimize their tax liabilities and maximize tax-efficient strategies.

Retirement Planning

Retirement planning services enable clients to prepare for their post-work lives by developing income generation strategies and managing retirement accounts.

Estate Planning

Estate planning services address clients' wealth transfer needs, including the creation of wills, trusts, and charitable giving strategies.

Family Governance and Education

Succession Planning

Succession planning services ensure the smooth transfer of family businesses or wealth management responsibilities to the next generation.

Family Communication and Conflict Resolution

Single-family offices may provide guidance on family communication and conflict resolution to maintain harmony and preserve family values.

Financial Education for Younger Generations

Financial education services help younger family members understand wealth management principles and prepare them for future financial responsibilities.

Philanthropy and Social Impact

Charitable Giving Strategies

Single-family offices assist clients in developing and implementing charitable giving strategies, including the establishment of foundations and donor-advised funds.

Impact Investing

Impact investing services enable clients to align their investments with their social and environmental values.

Establishing and Managing Foundations

Single-family offices may provide guidance on establishing and managing foundations to support clients' philanthropic endeavors.

Lifestyle and Concierge Services

Real Estate Management

Real estate management services help clients manage and maintain their residential, commercial, and investment properties.

Travel and Event Planning

Travel and event planning services assist clients in organizing personal and family events, vacations, and other lifestyle experiences.

Personal Security and Privacy

Personal security and privacy services ensure the safety and confidentiality of clients and their families.


Advantages of Single-Family Offices

Customization and Control

Single-family offices offer a high level of customization and control, allowing families to tailor services to their specific needs and preferences.

Privacy and Confidentiality

Privacy and confidentiality are often critical concerns for UHNW families, and single-family offices can provide a secure and discreet environment to manage their wealth and personal affairs.

Integration and Coordination of Services

Single-family offices can facilitate the integration and coordination of various services, ensuring seamless and efficient wealth management.

Family-Centric Approach

A family-centric approach allows single-family offices to focus on the unique needs, values, and dynamics of the family, fostering trust and long-term relationships.

Challenges of Single-Family Offices

Cost and Resource Considerations

Establishing and maintaining a single-family office can be resource-intensive and costly, particularly for smaller UHNW families or those with less complex needs.

Access to Expertise and Investment Opportunities

Single-family offices may have limited access to specialized expertise and investment opportunities compared to multi-family offices or other wealth management firms.

Succession Planning and Continuity

Ensuring the continuity and succession of the single-family office can be challenging, particularly when key professionals retire or the family's needs evolve over time.

Compliance and Regulatory Issues

Single-family offices must navigate an increasingly complex regulatory environment and ensure compliance with various financial and tax regulations.


Establishing a Single-Family Office

Identifying the Family's Needs and Goals

Families should start by evaluating their specific needs and goals, such as investment management, estate planning, philanthropy, and lifestyle services, to determine if a single-family office is the most suitable solution.

Structuring the Single-Family Office

Deciding on the appropriate legal and operational structure for the single-family office is crucial, as it can impact governance, tax, and regulatory considerations.

Building the Team of Professionals

Recruiting a team of experienced professionals, such as portfolio managers, tax advisors, estate planners, and lifestyle specialists, is essential to delivering comprehensive and high-quality services.

Implementing Governance and Operational Processes

Establishing robust governance and operational processes can ensure the smooth functioning of the single-family office and facilitate communication and decision-making among family members and professionals.

Ongoing Management and Review

Regularly reviewing and updating the single-family office's strategy, services, and performance is essential to adapt to the evolving needs and goals of the family.

Alternatives to Single-Family Offices

Multi-Family Offices

Multi-family offices provide a range of wealth management and advisory services to multiple UHNW families, offering economies of scale and access to a broader range of expertise and investment opportunities.

Private Banks and Wealth Management Firms

Private banks and wealth management firms cater to HNW and UHNW clients, providing investment management, financial planning, and other services, often at a lower cost than single-family offices.

Hybrid Solutions

Hybrid solutions combine the features of single-family offices, multi-family offices, and other wealth management providers, offering a tailored and flexible approach to wealth management.


Single-family offices play a vital role in wealth management for ultra-high-net-worth clients by providing a customized, family-centric approach to managing, preserving, and growing their wealth.

These offices offer a range of financial and non-financial services tailored to the unique needs and preferences of the family.

When considering the establishment of a single-family office, families must carefully weigh the advantages, challenges, and alternatives to ensure that it is the most suitable solution for their wealth management needs.

By thoroughly evaluating their specific requirements, goals, and resources, families can choose the most appropriate approach to managing their wealth and preserving it for future generations.

Single-Family Offices FAQs

About the Author

True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

True Tamplin is a published author, public speaker, CEO of UpDigital, and founder of Finance Strategists.

True is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF®), author of The Handy Financial Ratios Guide, a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing, contributes to his financial education site, Finance Strategists, and has spoken to various financial communities such as the CFA Institute, as well as university students like his Alma mater, Biola University, where he received a bachelor of science in business and data analytics.

To learn more about True, visit his personal website, view his author profile on Amazon, or check out his speaker profile on the CFA Institute website.

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