Financial Services

The family office boom: Contrasts between East and West

November 12, 2020


The family office boom: Contrasts between East and West

November 12, 2020

Jason Wincuinas
Editor, The Economist Intelligence Unit

Based in Hong Kong, Jason is a senior editor of thought leadership research for Asia. He covers the region from Australia to India but has a background of business in China and Hong Kong. 

A Boston native, Jason has worked and travelled in Asia since the 1990s, settling permanently in Hong Kong since 2009. Before joining the Economist Group he was managing editor for Campaign Asia, covering all aspects of the marketing industry—from the implementation of technology to ad creative, to consumer research.

Prior to that, Jason's professional focus was in finance and technology, working in both investment and engineering firms. He also spent a decade of his career heading a manufacturing and import company, bringing goods from China’s factories to the US retail market. Some of his most formative work has been as a freelance writer and stay-at-home dad.   

Jason received a BA in English from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst with study at the University of Sheffield in Yorkshire, UK. 

The family office boom: Contrasts between East and West

The family office boom: Contrasts between East and West is a report from The Economist Intelligence Unit, commissioned by DBS Private Bank. 

Family offices—personal investment firms for ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWI)—are a growing force in the global financial market. The number of family offices has increased ten-fold since 2008 and now stands at around 10,000, according to consulting group EY.

As the ranks of the world’s billionaires continue to expand, so too will the count and assets of their associated family offices—along with their clout. The tradition of family offices was started in the West by wealthy British and US businessmen. However, Asia has held a distinction as the world’s single wealthiest region for the past five consecutive years.

This report examines the different approaches of family offices in the East (the Asia region generally) and West (Europe and North America) and explores the role culture, family and wealth generation play in terms of their structure and management.

The study is based on wide-ranging desk research and in-depth interviews with family office owners, managers and advisers. Our thanks are due to the following interviewees for their time and insights: 

  • Annie Chen, chair, RS Group, Hong Kong
  • Stacy Choong, partner, private client and tax, Withers KhattarWong, Singapore
  • Joseph Falanga, managing director, UHY Advisors, US
  • James Fleming, chief executive officer, Sandaire, UK
  • Tony Gao Hao, director, Global Family Business Research Centre; and director, Strategic Partnership and Development Office, PBC School of Finance, Tsinghua University, China
  • James Grubman, owner, Family Wealth Consulting, US
  • Chompan Kulnides, vice-president of investment, Minor Holdings, Thailand
  • Chris Merry, group chief executive officer, Stonehage Fleming, UK
  • Professor Sir Anthony Ritossa, Chairman, Ritossa Family Office, Dubai
  • Kirby Rosplock, founder, Tamarind Partners, US
  • Professor Yu Hongru, founder, BOZE Family Office, China

The report was written by Dewi John and edited by Georgia McCafferty and Jason Wincuinas.