What is the daily life like for a family office?

I currently work at a long-only HF within a large institutional AM firm and have been since graduating university. However I noticed most of the work I am doing revolves around client/compliance work and understanding investment decisions rather than making them, despite working directly under PMs. I probably have about another 3 years before I can start making my own decisions, and until then I am doing what I am doing currently. I think a part of this is beacuse most of our client base is institutional, and most of these tasks are managing their mandates and whatnot (many of them have SMAs so we have to cover a lot of ground) and answering client questions about the direction we are taking their accounts with. We tend to not have crazy amounts of risk in these funds as well, so our investment strategy is pretty vanilla

With that in mind, would responsibilities differ compared to working in a family office? That is, if the client base is largely more towards private individuals, would there be less mandates and therefore less operational work and more HF-like work around investment ideas?

Comments (2)

Jan 17, 2017

I've worked at a very large SFO (single family office) and a mid-sized HF. Of course every family will have different needs and wishes, so there is not one straight answer. Our investments were low-risk, as our main goal was capital preservation, but there was a fair amount of work involving investment ideas. In my case, the amount of analysis vs. other work was very similar. The main difference is the client; a wealthy family is less likely to leave you (oftentimes there is also a personal relationship between management and the family, it's not only performance that counts, but they'll still want to know what's going on with their money), this means you may have a longer time frame for your trades. At a HF, you'll have a bunch of mainly institutional clients who are much more willing to pull out money when things are going bad.

Is your role considered an investment role? Sure you'll have your analysts do some of the write-ups for presentations explaining their work, but it shouldn't be the major task you are working on. Even if you're not the one calling the shots (yet), you should try to help in the research process and really learn from your PM's how they form an opinion on a trade. It may just be the fund you are working at that handles analysts this way. Do you have any friends in the industry? If yes, is their experience similar to yours?

Jan 17, 2017