US Family Office Guide

There are more than 3,000 family offices currently operating in this country, more than any other one country has.  I have met with many family offices while attending conferences in New York City, Boston and elsewhere.  Even though the family offices industry in the US is already very big, it is still expanding.

The following free guide to US Family Offices will help you better understand US family offices and provide you with resources to learn more about American family offices.  You should also check out our 100% free book on family offices.

Introduction to the United States

The United States currently has the largest economy in the world.   In terms of GDP purchasing power parity, as of 2010, the United States ranks number one with $13.86 trillion.  The U.S. has long been known as a business and financial capital.  However, the United States was hit perhaps the hardest by the financial crisis and is still struggling to recover.  The World Factbook provides a good overview of the American economy, here’s an excerpt:

The US has the largest and most technologically powerful economy in the world, with a per capita GDP of $47,200. In this market-oriented economy, private individuals and business firms make most of the decisions, and the federal and state governments buy needed goods and services predominantly in the private marketplace. US business firms enjoy greater flexibility than their counterparts in Western Europe and Japan in decisions to expand capital plant, to lay off surplus workers, and to develop new products.

For many years, America has been recognized as the leader in innovation, business and finance.  While emerging economies and competitors start to gain ground on America, it is still certain that America will remain a major economic player for decades to come.

Why the US

The United States has perhaps the most advanced financial system in the world.  The financial capital of the world is in New York City (although London is always a close second).  America is one of the richest countries in the world especially given its large size and population–compared to say Luxembourg which tops the list at $80,800 GDP per capita.

Given that there is all this wealth in the United States and that wealthy families in the United States are well-accustomed with the idea of private banking and wealth management, the US is an ideal fit for family offices.  Indeed, family offices have been operating in the United States for decades and they are a very familiar concept to most high-net-worth individuals and families.

Family Offices in the United States

Formal family offices are thought to have started in the United States (although there are also theories that the concept originated in Europe or Asia).  The family office has been a part of the American financial culture for many years and wealthy families increasingly rely on family offices to increase their wealth and take care of various responsibilities like charitable donations, tax and accounting work, etc.  The United States has an estimated 500 to 1000 single-family offices and around 2500 to 3000 multi-family offices that manage $300 billion and $750 billion.  This makes it the most popular location for family offices and although other countries are increasingly adopting the model, it seems unlikely that any other country will rival the American dominance of this financial niche anytime soon. 

Despite the fact that there are thousands of family offices operating in the U.S. there is still a great demand for family offices from wealthy families and individuals.  Robert Ellis, senior VP of Celent’s Wealth Management group and author of U.S Family Offices, Best Practices in Providing Financial Services to America’s Most Privileged Households explains, “There are family offices out there that can’t get enough wealth managers. There’s a war out there for financial services talent.”  This means that there is still a need for family offices in America, even more than the 3,000 plus that currently exist. 

US Family Office Resources Guide

US Family Office Resource #1: Here is a frequently asked questions page on family offices that will give you some insight into the basics of family offices including an estimate of the number of family offices in the US.

US Family Office Resource #2: Here is a formal classification of the family office in America by the Securities and Exchange Commission.  This document makes clear the family office’s exemption from regulation under the Investment Advisers Act.   

US Family Office Resource #3:  If you are looking for contact details of family offices in the United States you may want to consider using a Family Offices Database.  A Family Office Database provides you with the complete contact details for 100’s or sometimes even up to 1,000 global single and multi-family offices within an easy to use Excel spreadsheet format.  Learn more about this by clicking here. 

US Family Office Resource #4:  This article outlines the need among families and individuals to have family offices manage their money in America.   

US Family Office Resource #5: This is a very interesting article about 11 family offices teaming up to invest in Cleantech.   

US Family Office Resource #6: In this document, the history of family offices in the United States and Europe is explained by Dr. Steen Ehlern, the author of “Global Private Wealth Management: An International Study on Private Wealth Management and Family Office Services for Ultra-High Net Worth Individuals”. 

US Family Office Resource #7:  Perhaps a sign of the growing popularity and even trendiness of the family office; the NYT article covers Ophrah Winfrey’s decision to use a family office.   

US Family Office Resource #8:  This article talks about how American family offices are trying to scoop up talent from hedge funds.  

US Family Office Resource #9:  This article is on the same topic, based on a survey of hedge funds and family offices in America.  

US Family Office Resource #10: Here is a valuable report, titled “US Family Offices: Best Practices in Providing Financial Services to America’s Most Privileged Households.” 

US Family Office Resource #11: This article is from last month and talks about how American family offices are facing tougher rules and regulations. 

US Family Office Resource #12: This report covers “PwC Family Business Survey 2010/11 2011 US family business survey report: Private company services: PwC Download Choosing your next big bet: A US perspective.” 

US Family Office Resource #13: In this Bank of America post, we find that “Family Offices Are Going Back to Basics as Market Events Speed Office Evolution.” 

US Family Office Resource #14: This article covers the expansion of American family offices from America to Europe.  The article begins: “American multifamily offices are beginning to venture into the lucrative European wealth market, but the unanswered question is whether the invasion will be welcomed or shunned.”

Are you an employee or manager of a family office in the United States?  Then we’d like to keep in touch with you.  Simply send us an email at

Be sure to check out for our family office database and our free book on family offices.

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