A Virtual Family Office Solution: The Family Stewardship Council

By Mark Barnicutt on October 26, 2010

It has been our experience, over many decades of dealing with families of significant means, that they all have their individual levels of complexity which have evolved over the families’ evolutionary lifecycles. These complex structures are needed to address the delicate balance that exists between tax and estate matters, asset protection and income splitting issues as well as current lifestyle versus longer term succession and philanthropic goals.

To address these subtle, and sometimes not so subtle matters, these families have had to surround themselves with a myriad of professional practitioners, such as lawyers, accountants, investment advisors and consultants, to provide the technical expertise in each specific area of their wealth continuum such as estate laws, tax laws, tax accounting, risk management and investments. Often it has been left to the families to try to synthesize the various solutions provided to them, but unfortunately, most often they remained unintegrated and although, on a stand-alone basis, technically sound, as a cohesive solution to support the family’s purpose and journey in life often ended up to be somewhat less than effective.

To address these issues, we developed a set of processes and disciplines that allows us to design, implement and manage a process with a designated group of your key professional advisors to participate as members of a “Family Stewardship Council”.  Structured properly, a Family Stewardship is effectively a “virtual” Family Office solution.

We have always stressed, in order to ensure that a family’s wealth is sustainable for generations to come, it is critical that effective governance structures be established with specific mandates and with roles and responsibilities clearly defined for all of those individuals who have been charged with a stewardship role for the family wealth. In addition, to ensuring sustainability, many of our clients have also told us that this process makes their lives easier, as all of the important financial decisions that need to be made are done so in a disciplined manner with the appropriate advisors all working together. In this regard, HighView will work with our clients to design and implement a robust fiduciary based governance structure for the stewardship of the family wealth that adheres to their unique values, goals and expectations.  This is the purpose of a Family Stewardship Council.

HighView’s Chairman, Gary Brent, recently wrote an article about Family Stewardship Councils.  To read this article, please click here.

Mark Barnicutt
See Beyond

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