Meticulous planning, preparation, attention to detail and mitigating risks were some of the key themes discussed by British astronaut Tim Peake as he opened WE ARE GUERNSEY’s fifth Private Wealth Forum.

Those themes continued throughout the following panel discussion which focused on the family offices of the future.

Russell Clarke, Managing Partner of Carey Olsen, opened by suggesting that the pandemic was a trigger event for many wealthy families to consider both succession planning and to reflect on what their wealth is for and its purpose.

The focus on clarity around the purpose of a family’s wealth continued as Sophie Ward, Head of Charities & Education, HSBC Private Banking, suggested it was important to drill down carefully into purpose and what it means for the current and future generations. For some it might mean not doing harm, others expect positive returns on investment or a more altruistic outcome.

Eric Martineau-Fortin, Founder and Managing Partner of White Star Capital, referenced how increasingly, families are engaging members in investment discussions from a younger age. Consequently, they are contributing to the process of creating purpose in the family wealth, leading to more ESG integration or climate-focused investments and greater family cohesion.

The panel discussed an increased focus for family wealth on purpose-driven investments will have an impact on the choice of jurisdiction as families seek out vehicles that meet their ESG criteria. For example, Guernsey’s new Natural Capital Fund regime aims to channel investment into projects aimed at preserving biodiversity.

Michael Betley, Global Head, Private Clients, Ocorian, underscored that fiduciary duties include taking into account all the risks – including climate risk – that might be inherent in investments.

He said: “benefits are not limited to financial gain, having clean air for future generations also has a clear value.”

Other ‘super themes’ being seen by advisers include security, balancing privacy and transparency, global mobility and managing macroeconomic shocks.

The panel returned to the theme of people and the need for advisers to consider individual characters and their personal needs within family planning, governance and wealth distribution. They agreed that private client advisers need to use their soft skills to encourage collaboration and early intervention together with good governance practices can help to avoid potentially contentious issues.

Looking ahead to the future, Eric discussed how web3, decentralised finance and digital assets are changing how people are storing and moving assets. Family offices can harness these new technologies to respond quickly to opportunities.

Throughout the session, Guernsey was referenced as a stable platform for private wealth, the need for which has never been stronger in a volatile world.

Michael Betley said: “We need to act with integrity and create a platform for our clients that is reliable, trustworthy and fit for purpose. Guernsey’s finance industry is part of the capital flow system, so we need to demonstrate that we are a good global citizen and regulation is part of staying relevant.”

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Guernsey Finance

Guernsey Finance - the promotional agency for the island's finance industry internationally - is a joint industry and Government initiative responsible for the promotion of Guernsey. Under the leadership of Chief Executive Dominic Wheatley, the agency ensures that the core values and competencies of Guernsey's finance sector are accepted and respected by the global community and that financial business development flows are enhanced to the island.