Testing times for single family offices as interest-rate adjustments probe psychology

Single Family Offices may be distinctly vulnerable to the psychological impact of financial losses, suggests a new briefing paper issued by the Family Office Council, a membership group for single family offices.

The Briefing paper, Risk Gets Personal, shows how Family Office Executives worry risk tolerances agreed in a rising market, and based on long-term commitments, may prove fragile if the market turns.  Click here to read the paper in full http://carlyon.ch/#media.

Family Office Council CEO, Keith Johnston, explained: “While the good times roll, the rationale for such long-term investments is that the time frame alone will see investors through short-to-medium term market volatility. But, unless the psychological impact of short-term losses has been properly stress-tested, the commitment to that strategy may prove illusory.”

The paper, based on direct market insight from family office executives, demonstrates their perspective on investment risk is distinctive.  Risk outlook is driven by the degree of involvement of the original wealth creators, investment time horizon and number of beneficiaries. Mature family offices tend to invest for the long-term, especially as they are not required to satisfy external third parties that come with pre-determined exit timetables.

Risk expert Philip Higson of family office consulting firm Carlyon AG, and sponsor of the paper, said: “Family offices need to prepare for volatility and interest rates to return to normal. The issue is that no one knows how difficult this transition is going to be, as the US policy makers are projecting a steeper path than the markets for rate increases and the yield curve slope is sending a warning signal.”

The paper notes a benign environment with abnormally low rates, combined with family office preference for more control, continues to generate enthusiasm for relatively illiquid assets such as direct investments in private companies and private debt.

For further comment and copies of the briefing paper, Risk Gets Personal, is available on request to keith.j@familyofficecouncil.com, or on http://carlyon.ch/#media.

The Family Office Council is a UK-based membership group for single family offices – see www.familyofficecouncil.com for more details.

Carlyon AG is a Zurich-based Risk Consultancy, which conducts financial research, analysis and information services for hedge funds, family offices and foundations – see www.carlyon.ch for more details T: +41 (0) 44 545 0330