December 9, 2022
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Learning On The Fly? Further Executive Education & Business Schools For Family Offices

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Family offices are undeniably in a league all their own and the industry is a relatively contemporary one. An industry where, traditionally, family office professionals and executives have cut their teeth in allied sectors, such as banking, legal or corporate finance and have had to learn the ins and outs of family wealth management on the fly. Any ‘education’ primarily happened via their peers or through events and membership forums with rich knowledge-sharing.

However as the industry has evolved, so too have family offices themselves and many now realise the importance of standardised learning for their executives. Family offices have begun adopting new tools to glean data as well as promoting targeted continued executive education courses through leading institutions to further train their executives. In turn, many of these institutions are responding to this demand by developing new executive education courses curated for a number of different needs, including next-gens wanting to enter the family business, family office management, wealth management and planning, to name a few.

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but with an increasing number of family office-oriented education programs, it appears that you can send an old dog back to school. Here’s a run-down of some of the most interesting courses available to family office professionals.

Leading The Family Office by IMD Business School

The IMD Business School’s Global Family Business Centre(GFBC) offers a highly specialized, three-day course in single-family office management through its “Leading Family Office” program. The program is offered once a year in the IMD campuses in Switzerland(June) and Singapore(October). The program is exclusively open to family members of existing Single Family Offices or families who might be considering or are in the process of setting one up for their personal wealth management needs.

“The field of family offices is an emerging field and there are little to no structures in place providing guidelines for “what is a family office or what is it not”’, says Peter Vogel, Director of the Global Family Business Center and Professor of Family Business at IMD. “Families are struggling to identify their own aspirations when it comes to a family office and there is no one-size-fits-all approach here, but there are attempts to create a dedicated certification program for family officers, trying to bring some structure to the field.”

IMD’s three-day course content includes the introduction to family office landscape, identifying trends and outlooks, asset allocation, wealth management, impact investing, and high performing governance of a SFO. The course differs significantly from GFBC’s another popular executive “Leading The Family Business” which is structured towards the management of a family firm/business rather than its wealth management.

“There are many reasons for this increased interest in the subject of family offices around the world (both from the families and as a consequence also from the service providers), whether it’s the increased number of wealth owners around the world who are actively seeking for solutions, increased complexity of family enterprise systems requiring a better and more tailored approach or an increased complexity of the investment space,” adds Vogel. “It is only natural that institutions are ramping up their activities in this space and trying to position themselves.”

Family Office Wealth Management—By Harvard Business School

This three-day program is created to assist family office professionals navigate their investment decisions in an ever changing financial landscape without compromising the needs of the family they are representing. Its salient program educational objectives include:

  • Deeper knowledge into office governance and family wealth management.
  • Intergenerational wealth transfer solutions and addressing skill gaps.
  • Procuring an idea on the full-range of investment opportunities that are available at the disposal of a family office firm.
  • Exploring philanthropic investing.
  • Developing and executing proper networking strategies and relationship management.

Although it is best suited for individuals who are directly involved with the planning and execution of a FO’s portfolio, HBS encourages every member who might be involved in the wealth generation of the family to attend the program. The program is offered as an in-person course at the HBS campus and carries with it a price tag of US$ 10,500 which includes tuition costs, accommodation, books, case materials, and most meals.

Financial Management For Family Office—By Pepperdine Graziadio Business School

Many family offices fail to develop a profitable portfolio due to poor investment and/or budgeting decisions. This two-and-half-day program by the Graziadio Business School is designed to help family office executives develop key skills in corporate governance, financial management, and evaluation and make well-informed investment decisions.

The program explores key wealth management topics like philanthropic investing, FO governance, taxing and accounting, risk management, asset allocation, real estate investing, and multi-generational wealth management. It is offered as an executive education course at the Drescher Graduate Campus in Malibu and is suitable for executives of both Single as well as Multi-Family Offices and any high-net-worth family members who wish to learn key skills in long term wealth management.

The Family Office Leadership Program—By Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University

This unique, highly specialized family office program offered by the Kellogg School of Management focuses on training industry executives in leadership skills to manage the complex, high stakes environment of a family office. The program is structured as a virtual, executive education course and admissions are limited to senior executive leaders of single family offices. The salient objectives of this program include:

  • Understanding and aligning an FO’s operations with the family dynamics.
  • Promoting trust among stakeholders.
  • Learning key networking skills with other family offices and industry leaders.
  • Developing strategies for planning succession, outsourcing, continuity, and other areas.

The program is also registered with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy and offers 12.0 Continuing Professional Education(CPE) credits to learners who complete it.

The Wharton Global Family Alliance—By The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

The Global Family Alliance was established at the Wharton School in 2004 in partnership with the CCC Alliance Multi-Family office. Since then it has evolved into a one-of-a-kind, global institution with a mission to disseminate knowledge to help high-net-worth-families and family firms grow in the global stage. As a family business-academic partnership, it offers a diverse selection of full-time degree and non-degree programs along with regular publication of industry reports in the form of research publications. The GFA also holds an annual Family Office Roundtable as a forum for inter-family knowledge transfer.

The GFA stands out from other institutions in its high-impact output of publications based on peer-based, real-time collaborative research based on actual global family experiences. It functions under the leadership of Dr. Raphael Amit and Laird Pendleton who serve as the alliance’s chairman and advisory board respectively.

Family Office Initiative—By Stanford University

Despite the growing importance of family offices globally, there is still limited knowledge about their impact in the society. Family offices manage the wealth of high-net-worth families that control a disproportionate amount of wealth globally and the way this wealth is managed and used can have serious socio-economic implications. The Stanford University’s Global Projects Center is developing a robust curriculum to analyze the importance and impact of family offices on the global stage. The goal of the Family Office Initiative program is to identify key areas of improvement in wealth management services provided by family offices. Research topics include the impact of FOs in early-stage technology funding, philanthropic ventures, and wealth preservation.

Entreprises Familiales Gouvernance et Management—By HEC Business School

The HEC Business School offers a 2-week program in family business governance and management to train senior executives in dynamic entrepreneurship and asset management. It is offered as an in-person, executive education certificate program at the HEC Business School campus in Paris. The program is aimed at current or future directors, stakeholders, board members, and non-family CEOs of family-run enterprises. The course is in French and the entire program is priced at 17,900€. The objectives of the program include:

  • Training executives in their roles as an administrator.
  • Culminate a deeper understanding of the complex nature of a family business in order to better understand their unique dynamics and psychology.
  • Train learners in industry standard skills in family governance and corporate management.

Still a lot of room for growth

As family offices continue to grow globally, new industry standards will emerge and old industry standards will be replaced. Tertiary educational institutions will therefore play a pivotal role in not only keeping FO executives up-to-date with the latest industry happenings but also help them develop key skills to better manage their firm without compromising on the needs of the families they represent.



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