Family Office and Art

Wealth management industry is well developed in providing art related services; however, family offices in particular are not as developed as they could be. At the moment, the market for art related services is at the expansion stage and almost 40% of FOs are not offering art advise to their clients. This might be explained by the fact that a lot of collectors already have the knowledge required to manage their collection and are not looking for any advice. Alternatively, families with large collections are likely to have a curator that is working for them and is not a part of a family office. In this case families would not discuss their art with family office to avoid a curatorial overlap. Those FOs who are offering art related services for their clients are still more likely to use The Outsourced Model, rather than The Expert Generalist Model or in house. Although the difference between outsourcing (32%) and expert generalist (29%) is not very significant – only 3%.

A comprehensive in house art advisory is almost impossible to run due to the range of connoisseurs and experts required to cover different areas of the market, but is not necessary for business reasons. As art related services contribute to a very small proportion of the FO business at the moment. It is inefficient to invest many resources into insignificant activities of the business. Therefore, expert generalist model is the only possible in house model for art advisory in FO at the moment. The need for art advisory in house has been identified as a future model in order for family office not to lose any aspects of their relationship with the clients. It is likely that when outsourcing some aspect of the relationship is lost as clients are redirected to the 3rd party and family officer is no longer aware of what is happening to all the client’s assets.

There is a room for improvement in this research if the interviewee sample is increased. By doing that the information gathered would be more representative and reliable. Not only the sample size could be increased, but also a new target group could be introduced: interviewing the families in MFO. This would provide a new perspective on the subject. By having the opinion of the families on art related services, it can be analysed whom they trust more: an in house specialist or an independent one, would they use art advisory services if they were provided in house, would they consider staring a collection managed by FO, etc. A new perspective from the families can identify the need for these services within FO and shape the future of the industry. However, it is difficult to interview families to find out their views as family offices cannot reveal their clients’ identities, therefore, they can only be approached through personal network.

It is only logical to suggest that collaboration between FO and art advisory is likely to increase in the future. Family offices are seeking art advisory due to organic growth of wealthy art collectors. At the moment outsourcing is the most typical way of fulfilling this market need; however, there is evidence to suggest that in the future The Expert Generalist Model will increase as family offices acknowledge that at least one employee should be in house to coordinate all of the clients’ art needs. Moreover, the increased level of competition among multi family offices requires a greater level of differentiation between them. At the same time there the increasing desire and potential of UHNWIs to collect art. The Expert Generalist Model is where supply and demand meet: family offices achieve greater level of differentiation and satisfy clients’ demand for art.

Family Office is primarily overlooking financial affairs and as art is becoming a substantial part of wealth investment and recognised more as an asset class, there is an opportunity for the family offices to develop the range of their services. Considering the unstable performance of traditional assets in 2008, one way of differentiating for FOs is to develop alternative investment department which includes art. Financial services such as lending against art and creating small art funds can be a substantial part of the business in the future.

The hypothesis, which was identified in the beginning – The majority of family offices that offer art advisory services use The Expert Generalist Model –, has not been proven throughout the study. Even though the majority of family offices that offer art advisory services use The Outsourced Model the difference between the number of FOs using that and The Expert Generalist Model is only 3%, which is within margin of error.

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