What constitutes a family office? Both Pritzker Group, managed by brothers Tony and JB Pritzker, and Cascade Investment, which looks after Bill Gates’s wealth, prefer not to be described as family offices.

Pritzker Group calls itself a “world-class investment firm”. Indeed, unlike most family offices, rather than take stakes in individual companies, it seeks to buy whole businesses. Cascade, as Lucy-Warwick Ching writes, is “purely an asset management company that invests Gates’s personal wealth”.

Catherine Tillotson, managing partner at consultancy Scorpio Partnership, notes the rise of the term “private investment office”. Accountants and lawyers are also eying wealth management opportunities. The ground traditionally occupied by family offices is shifting — as is the nature of their business.

As the structure is adopted around the world, notably in Asia, it will surely change further. Simply exporting western wealth management models eastwards does not work — as many companies have discovered over the past decade.

What does the future hold? We attempt to answer this question — and more — in this family office-themed edition of FT Wealth. As ever we value your input. Do let us know what you think of this issue. Which other areas should we have looked at, do you think?

December’s edition will return to our analysis of what we have termed “Ambitious Wealth”: examining new ways of creating and preserving money — and how the world of philanthropy is changing in response.


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