Over the course of the last few years, I have had the pleasure of working with some of the brightest and most successful individuals in our country. Whether they are ultra-high net worth individuals who had a wealth event based on a successful sale of an idea; or a family whose business was recently sold; or a Family Office responsible for multiple principals’ financial success, I routinely get the same answer to this one question. In the event of an emergency, what would the family or family office do? The answer is usually, “not sure, but that is not going to happen to us.”

Thinking You’re Invincible Isn’t Safe

I then follow up and ask why? The most typical response is along the lines of, “We are not that type of family or business.” The conversation usually continues when I ask what type of family or business doesn’t need to consider emergency preparedness measures. At this point, everything goes quiet and there’s a pause.

“If Our Servers Go Down, We’ll Just Work From Home.”

While business continuity plans that include having backup servers are one aspect of an emergency preparedness plan, it certainly is not an umbrella for the individual, family or family office covering all eventualities.

In today’s world there are growing risks, threats and vulnerabilities to the ultra-high net worth client. For instance, travel. With the horrific events in the recent past in Paris, Orlando and Belgium, it is incumbent on all businesses, regardless of size, to take appropriate precautions before and during travel. The use of technology applications to monitor and communicate with principals when they are traveling provides invaluable information. And having a response plan for everything from medical to weather to an active shooter event provides the family or family office the confidence that is critical during a crisis.

When Tweets Turn to Threats

As my colleague Andy Davis recently wrote, there is the growing reliance on the internet as a reliable news source, regardless of where it originates or if the facts are validated. The response to internet news, rumors and innuendos is quick, specific and at times threatening. What does an ultra-high net worth individual, family or family office do if someone makes a threat on social media against a principal or family member? Should these be taken seriously and if so why and if not, why not? Who would you call? Local law enforcement? Possibly. But if a crime has not been committed (yet), their response options are very limited. As trusted security advisors to our clients, we are able to provide the resources, expertise and experience that help our clients respond to these types of situations with confidence, and most importantly, make them feel safe.

Prepare for the Worst

Finally, the insider risk of a cyber event within the ultra-high net worth client’s environment is growing more likely day by day. What technology, practices, procedures and policies does the family office business have in place to help minimize the risk? I am pretty confident identity theft, a falsely filed tax return, and attempted wire transfers would be quite concerning to anyone, particularly ultra-high net worth individuals. Preparation helps reduce and minimize the impact in case something terrible happens.

Keeping this in mind, a better answer to the question, “In the event of an emergency, what would the family or family office do?” might be, “What type of emergency? Let me show you our plan.”

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