An independent family office industry body has been set up in Hong Kong to promote the industry in the SAR and support the territory’s growing role as a family office hub for Asia-Pacific.
The Family Office Association Hong Kong (FOAHK) was formally established this week by five family office executives, which include founders of Raffles Family Office, Carret Private Investment, Wisdom Asset Management, Topaz Financial Group and Fountainhead Partners.
FOAHK founding members:
• Chi Man Kwan, chairman – CEO and founder at Raffles Family Office
• Kenneth Ho, vice chairman – founder and managing partner at Carret Private Investment
• Grant Ko, vice chairman – co-founder and chairman at Wisdom Asset Management
• Jim Kwok, committee member – CEO and co-founder at Topaz Financial Group
• Harry Pang, committee member – founder at Fountainhead Partners
“There has been robust growth in the family office industry in Hong Kong in recent years, fueled by a rising population of the ultra-wealthy families in the city,” FOAHK chairman Kwan said in a statement.
Quoting data from Wealth-X, Kwan said that Hong Kong, by far, has the highest density of ultra-wealthy individuals – at 1,234 or every million adults.
It is estimated that there are around 50 family offices based in Hong Kong, FOAHK added.
“The growing need for family office support around the management of financial affairs presents promising growth opportunities for family office operators in Hong Kong,” said Kwan.
“As a consultative industry body, FOAHK is committed to leading and driving dialogue between the industry, the government, regulatory bodies and other stakeholders to foster the development of the city’s family office industry and the broader private wealth management ecosystem,” he added.
Key government officials supported the establishment of FOAHK. Officiating the association’s opening ceremony include Joseph Chan, undersecretary for the Financial Services and Treasury Bureau (FSTB); Stephen Phillips, director-general of investment promotion for InvestHK; and King Au, executive director of the Financial Services Development Council (FSDC).
“The HKSAR Government has been stepping up its efforts and adopting a more user-friendly approach to attract family offices to set up and operate in Hong Kong with a range of measures,” FSTB’s Chan said in his closing remarks.
Attracting family offices remains a top priority for the Hong Kong government. For example, the FSDC published a white paper in July that sets out a number of recommendations to create a more conducive regulatory environment for family offices, according to the fifth annual Private Wealth Management report co-published by the Private Wealth Management Association (PWMA) in Hong Kong and KPMG.
In addition, the Securities and Futures Commission issued a circular and FAQs on the licensing obligations of family offices, which provide more guidance for family offices setting up in Hong Kong, according to the report.
The Hong Kong Monetary Authority, in collaboration with InvestHK and other government agencies, also set-up this year a one-stop-shop service for family offices, according to a statement from the HKMA.
“We seek to advocate for legislative and regulatory matters favourable to the development of the industry and the operations of family office,” FOAHK’s Kwan said.
New education programmes
Separately, Inflection Point Intelligence (IPI), a global financial services education company that was founded in Hong Kong, will be launching a new programme that focuses on managing and servicing a family office, according to a statement from the firm.
The course, which is expected to be launched by the first quarter next year, will be 100% online. IPI will also offer networking opportunities as well – both online and in person, noting that “networking will be a significant component” of the programme.
The programme, which will be available globally, will include 12 modules, including wealth and succession planning, structuring and set-up, governance, operations, private bank relationship and philanthropy and impact investing.
IPI’s family office course curriculum
“The course is designed for those who are thinking of starting a family office or who currently work in family offices, as well as service providers and career movers,” Anna Stephenson, managing director at IPI, said in the statement.
Currently, the IPI offers the Henley Executive Hedge Fund Programme, in collaboration with the Henley Business School, IPI noted.
In a similar move, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Institute of Banking and Finance (IBF) have partnered in July to create a skills map for financial advisers working within family offices “to deepen specialist skillsets in order to better serve” the sector.
The programme was co-created over the past year with the Lion City’s financial services industry, legal and tax advisers, and in consultation with education organisation SkillsFuture Singapore.
“The skills map will be a valuable resource for training providers and financial institutions to design and calibrate relevant training curriculum, and for family offices to refer to when hiring new recruits,” the MAS added.
In Singapore, it is estimated that there are around 200 single family offices, according to the MAS. Quoting a study conducted by DBS and EY, the MAS said that each SFO in manages assets of at least $100m, so total assets under management by SFOs in Singapore could be around $20bn.