Economic, social and legal trends visible across the world have become especially clear during the COVID-19 pandemic. People’s perspectives and priorities are changing to some extent, whilst other concerns will always remain important. As advisers of international families and their family offices, key trends we have seen relate to succession planning, social impact and good governance.

  • Succession planning – this has always been a key focus for families, but the pandemic has impacted this in several ways. Many people have prioritised succession planning, and have been more engaged with educating and involving children and grandchildren in long term planning. As younger generations become more involved in the family estate planning, ESG investments are becoming more popular.
  • ESG and philanthropy – Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) styles of investments are becoming much more widespread. Considering ESG as part of the family office’s investment strategy can help to maintain and protect a family’s legacy and ensure that their investment policy more accurately reflect the family’s values. Philanthropy is also top of the agenda, and another way in which younger generations can get involved. 
  • Compliance and governance – a very clear trajectory is that globally more efforts are being made to tackle tax avoidance, evasion and non-compliance through transparency and reporting. While this is uncontroversial, tracking all developments and compliance requirements in good time can be challenging. Equally, it is important to ensure good governance and compliance is carefully balanced with privacy and confidentiality - especially considering the release of data such as the Pandora Papers. It can be helpful to have a tracker for legislation in all relevant jurisdictions so that families and their advisers can keep up to date with fast changing laws.
  • Cryptocurrency and digital considerations – there is an increasing focus on cryptocurrency investments, which has associated regulatory issues as the legislation in this area cannot match the pace of the developments. The cryptocurrency market is incredibly volatile (as seen very clearly over the past couple of weeks), so this risk should be balanced with other investments. There is also a lot of concern around security and reliability, which extends to data security.