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Seven Ways Family Offices Can Build Trust

Families offices should take steps to build trust among their members as well as with the public at large, says the executive director of the Family Office Exchange.

This may not come as a surprise, but individuals have lost trust in the major institutions that have served as the framework of our modern society. Businesses, nongovernmental organizations, government and the media have all suffered a loss of trust in recent years for a variety of reasons.

Here’s a list of seven ideas to consider for building trust:

1. Share What You Stand For—Your Vision

Telling the public where you come from by consistently articulating your family story fosters trust, especially for business-owning families.

2. Revisit Your Operating and Decision-Making Model

Trust is supported when there’s a strong, reliable decision-making process. A set of parameters that defines a family decision-making model will engender greater family harmony and avoid what can become irreparable family conflict.

3. Trust But Verify Your Advisor Ecosystem

Individuals give up a degree of personal control and decision-making power when working together with an advisor. For this collaborative approach to work, the individuals have to trust the advisors working for the group. Performing due diligence on those advisors fosters confidence and trust and is essential in order to maintain a strong, supportive system.

4. Identify and Recommit to Trusted Communities

The most valuable communities provide not only networking but also opportunities for education and learning for those navigating similar life journeys and confronting similar issues.

5. Redefine Personal Touch and Connection

Because authenticity plays such a large part in establishing an emotional connection, figure out what that means to you, your office and your family enterprise. Be open to using modern communication processes and vehicles to facilitate those connections. At the same time, keep in mind that even digital natives value personal touch and want to engage in person too.

6. Expect Simplicity, Transparency and Explanations

Better information supports better decision making and helps families of wealth to feel more secure and confident. Demystifying technology goes hand-in-hand with supporting transparency efforts in eliminating and disclosing conflicts of interest. Don’t be reluctant to ask for greater levels of clarity or explanation. Look for applications where simplification can help you better comprehend the pros and cons.

7. Build Understanding and Engagement Through Education

Owners and their family office executives seek content that helps support awareness and responsibility around matters of wealth ownership for the rising generation. The confidence that results from these kinds of educational opportunities not only builds trust but also builds greater life perspective and family engagement.


Amy Hart Clyne is executive director of Family Office Exchange.

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