Marketing to family offices is often a complicated and misunderstood process. This is largely due to the wide variety of family offices that exist, each utilizing an individual approach to managing assets. Fund managers are often skilled in marketing to big institutions but struggle when attempting to market to smaller family offices.
Variation in Family Offices
Family offices are private wealth management firms that serve ultra-high-net-worth (UHNW) investors, typically an individual or family. They provide a variety of services including budgeting, financial planning, asset management, insurance, philanthropy, wealth transfer, and tax services. One important thing to note is that no two family offices are the same. Family offices are run in a variety of ways, making preliminary research critical. There are two types of family offices. Single family offices serve one UHNW family while a multi-family office serve many clients. There are hundreds of different ways that both can operate. Multi-family offices are similar to traditional wealth management institutions in size, commercial style, and business practices, while single family offices are often smaller and more personal.
Perhaps the most effective approach when marketing to family offices is creating a strong personal relationship. The first step in building this relationship begins with the initial meeting. Take this opportunity to assess how developed their business is, their current staffing structure, what their priorities are, how well they function, what the sales process is, and who the key decision-makers are. Are you going to be able to shake on a deal with the representative you talk to? Or will you need verification from the CIO or various supervisors before closing? How involved is the patriarch or matriarch in the process? This information may be difficult to identify without a face-to-face meeting, as many family offices are very private and maintain poor databases.
Knowing the values as well as the financial goals of the family office can give you a significant advantage over the competition. While most companies will have a diverse mix of strategies, one of the biggest and most common concepts family offices think about is liquidity, driven by expansion and asset growth, preservation of capital, or supporting the family mission. This means most family offices pursue more liquid products over a product that cannot be easily accessed when needed. Having a solid understanding of their concerns and pain points will help you build a rapport.
Making a Deal
Once you complete your preliminary research you can begin the true product marketing discussions. These discussions should be individualized and specific to the office, and you should focus on their priorities, not presenting your products. When dealing with a family office, you have a great deal of flexibility in what you can pitch and what you can offer. You should utilize the information you have to your advantage. How can you augment or diversify their current portfolio? Helping an employee, making a specialized deal, or making sure you are talking to the right person can make you stand out compared to other managers, or to the representative you’re talking to.
How Institutions are Different
Institutions are much bigger, and thus more organized and bureaucratic than family offices. Family offices can expeditiously make deals because they are not burdened by bureaucracy and middlemen. Conversations with family offices will differ from the strategic and analytic presentations typically given to institutions, which are often very cut and dry, focused on what is needed and what can be offered in that specific area. Institutions will typically have a manger in every field, so finding out who that is and how you can complement or work with them is much more important than how you are superior to them. Overall, a much more personal approach is required for family offices, while a more professional one is required for institutions.
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