As the leader of this firm’s West Coast practice, I spend a lot of time on this side of the country listening to the concerns of high net worth individuals on how to take prudent and appropriate steps related to family office security and how they can protect themselves and their families.
Family Office Security: Common Triggers of Need
Often – but not always – we’re first called in when “something breaks.”
- Parents grow concerned when a college-aged daughter’s ex begins making threats.
- A bank account alert trips on the morning that a long-time member of the family’s “inside circle” fails to show up for work.
- A break-in at the family’s summer home prompts new concerns about risks that haven’t been addressed in years.
- A family member plans a trip to one or several international destinations.
At one level, these concerns are universal. They’re human. But they’re also magnified in the context of wealth, prominence and celebrity.
A Short List of Examples
Some of our affluent clients are only too aware of the risks. For example:
- Some are eager to educate themselves about their exposure to various types of threats and vulnerabilities – such as identity theft, travel security, residence security, social media usage, and IT-related privacy and security imperatives challenging the Family Office and key advisors with “keys” to the family’s business, interests, and information.
- Others want to hammer out a family emergency plan that accounts for multiple scenarios – from regional power outages to chemical leaks and natural disasters – that could impact various family homes in different geographic locations here in the U.S. and worldwide.
- Still others are proactive in having us conduct background checks and due diligence investigations with various levels of rigor on insiders – like one client who found out, in our report on his prospective nanny, that she had a shadow career as a burlesque dancer.
Privacy, Convenience and Risk
But the priorities of every family are different. And its needs change dramatically over time. Individuals and families such as these require a level of security planning that is flexible, adaptive and nuanced. When I sit down with our clients’ principals and their advisors the most important thing I emphasize is that “you are in the driver’s seat.” But in order to translate their goals into assurance, I listen and learn about the family’s appetite across a wide spectrum of trade-offs between three critical factors: (1) privacy, (2) convenience, and (3) risk. That’s what matters. That’s the balance that matters most. If you’re an advisor to high net worth families, what are your priorities with respect to the family’s safety and security? In this regard, what keeps you up – and your clients awake – at night?