Posts by Fiducia Partners

2021 Investment Outlook

January 11th, 2021 Posted by Investment 0 thoughts on “2021 Investment Outlook”

After a terrible year for everyone, 2021 promises to be a turning point. It doesn’t feel that way right now with the terrible news of rising Covid cases and deaths, but the ambitious vaccine programme now underway has the potential to dramatically improve the situation, reduce the effect of the virus and get the economy back on track. The Brexit deal signed in the final days of 2020 also provides hope that international investors will return.

With hope on the horizon, I’ve decided to share my take on where the economy is heading in 2021, where investors might look to invest, and where they might avoid.

According to forecasts compiled by the Treasury, it’s expected that the UK’s GDP will expand by an average of 5.4% this year, marking the biggest leap forward for the economy in modern history. The Bank of England’s forecast is even more optimistic, expecting growth of 7.25% in 2021. Of course, much of this is dependent of the vaccine roll-out allowing everyday life to get back to something that looks like normal.

Alongside the growth forecast for the UK’s GDP, investors will also be pleased to hear that Blackrock expects equities to do well over the next 6-12 months, with tech and healthcare poised to benefit from the pandemic’s transformative shifts.

For income investors, 2020 was a painful year with UK dividends falling by 50% in Q3. Dividend yields in the oil and gas sector saw some of the biggest falls. The combination of a global supply glut and Covid driven collapse in demand pushed oil prices to historic lows which resulted in dramatically reduced dividends. Demand is expected to rise in 2021 but with air travel due to remain subdued for much of the year, it will remain relatively low.

Bank stocks also saw their yields fall in 2020 with financial institutions not paying dividends in order to protect their balance sheets. This, however, is expected to be short lived, although with the Bank of England capping dividend payments at 25% of profits, or 0.2% of risk-weighted assets, many banks will be prevented from paying out as much as they were pre-pandemic.

Looking at the housing market, throughout last year the market showed itself to be resilient and adaptable. The adoption of technology to introduce virtual viewings helped property professionals overcome the challenges Covid-19 presented and kept the market going. In fact, in 2020 buying, selling and letting activity reached record highs. This was partly due to pent-up demand which meant transactions piled up towards the middle of the year as well as the stamp-duty holiday introduced by the Chancellor which likely brought forward sales as people rush to take advantage of it before the 31st March deadline.

In 2021, however, transactions are expected to slow. Along with the end of the stamp-duty holiday, Help to Buy becomes less widely available from 31st March and an extra layer of stamp duty will kick in for overseas buyers. But while transactions are expected to slow, there is no suggestion that prices will drop. The government’s support measures are expected to cushion the worst of the unemployment risk and prevent widespread forced selling. But for investors looking to make a quick return, property won’t be the answer. Economists expect property prices to remain fairly flat, perhaps rising marginally if the economy recovers more quickly than expected.

Thinking about possible areas for investment, it may seem obvious, but it would be remiss of me not to include online retail. The online retail-sales boom that took hold in 2020 remains far from over. Shopping online for goods and services is very much part of the “new normal”, which means the e-commerce market remains primed for further growth. According to Statista research, global retail e-commerce sales totaled $3.53 trillion and is expected to grow to a staggering $6.54 trillion in 2022.

Cloud infrastructure too is another winner to come out of the pandemic. While businesses were already sharing data via the cloud prior to 2020, the pandemic has accelerated the trend and demonstrated the importance of cloud infrastructure. And while Amazon already dominates much of the market with its cloud infrastructure platform, Amazon Web Services (AWS), with the expected growth and size of the market, there is space for smaller players.

Is it a good time to buy property in prime central London?

November 13th, 2020 Posted by Investment, Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Is it a good time to buy property in prime central London?”

“Buy land, they’re not making it anymore” famously said Mark Twain.

And so it is to Prime Central London where over the long-term, property owners have enjoyed consistent annual price growth with limited downside, making the area one of the world’s leading real estate markets for investment.

In its latest property market report, Coutts tells its HNW clients that “Prime Central London looks cheap”.

In South Kensington, prices are now -18.9% below peak levels, while Knightsbridge & Belgravia prices are still -16.0% off the height of the market back in 2014. Prices in Fulham & Earl’s Court have fallen hardest however, down -19.2% compared to peak levels.

Mayfair & St James has been more resilient, with prices a mere -3.8% off the height of the market. Coutts does however warn that “it should be remembered that the data set is small in this area and quarterly figures can be erratic.”

Many PCL enclaves have been hit hard by the lack of international buyers, thwarted by Covid-combatting travel restrictions. The three areas that had the largest annual fall in transaction volumes in Q3 were Pimlico, Westminster & Victoria (-64.5%), Mayfair & St James (-46.7%) and Knightsbridge & Belgravia (-33.3%).

That’s helped PCL buyers’ negotiating positions: Average discounts in Marylebone, Fitzrovia & Soho in the last quester, for example, were -12.0% off the asking price – compared to -8.1% across prime London.

Alan Waxman of Landmass London, agrees that now is the time to buy for several reasons:

  • Due to travel restrictions, there are fewer international buyers
  • For foreigners, the pound looks cheap
  • We still have some months further of instability due to Covid & Brexit
  • London is still seen as the international city of the world
  • The market always goes quiet before and after Christmas
  • Now we have a vaccine coming through, this window of opportunity won’t last long

We agree with Alan when he says “if you are looking to buy, it’s always better when there are fewer buyers out there.”

There’s a famous adage in property that “You make your money when you buy, rather than when you sell.”

How to buy well in London: https://ambtpropertypartners.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Property-Sourcing-ambT-x-Landmass.pdf

Contact michael@fiduciapartners.com to discuss your requirements.

Together with our sister company ambT Property Partners and our partnership with Landmass, we have the skills and know how to support you.

How family businesses are responding to Covid-19 and an offer of support

May 6th, 2020 Posted by Business 0 thoughts on “How family businesses are responding to Covid-19 and an offer of support”

Over the last six weeks all businesses have been tested and many family businesses have shown themselves to be resilient and agile. Family businesses around the world have responded to the coronavirus threat by safeguarding staff, adapting production lines and pledging millions to medical relief.

In the UK, Bamford family-owned JCB was asked by the Prime Minister to help with the production of ventilators. In collaboration with Dyson it produced a prototype ventilator machine in record time and also pivoted some of its production lines to make protective visors for healthcare workers.

And family-owned LMVH and L’Oreal both pledged millions to relief efforts and used their cosmetics factories to manufacture hand sanitiser to donate to European health authorities.

But while many businesses have adapted, most have still taken a hit and there are lots of support measures to take advantage of, which my business partner Tony and I have been helping businesses access. Many have successfully applied for a CBILS loan but those that haven’t are now eligible to apply for the new Bounce Back Loan Scheme, launched on Monday 4th May.

Tony and I have produced a guidance document containing a summary of all the financial support available to businesses with our comments and advice on how to access the schemes. You can download the document here.

And please, don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need some help during this unprecedented time. You can contact us using the details below.

Michael D Oliver
CEO, Fiducia Partners
michael@fiduciapartners.com
07833 297 981

Tony Groom
CFO, Fiducia Partners
tony@fiduciapartners.com
07973 630646

IN THE PRESS – Fiducia Partners x Forbes.com

April 2nd, 2020 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “IN THE PRESS – Fiducia Partners x Forbes.com”

We’re extremely pleased to have some of our expertise featured in a recent Forbes article looking at challenges often faced by family businesses.

You can read the article by following the link below.

Article: Family Business Challenges; The 3 Issues Families Can’t Ignore

And if you’re facing any challenges in your family business, please do contact us for expert advice and support | info@fiduciapartners.com

Knight Frank’s Wealth Report 2020 Published

March 6th, 2020 Posted by Family Wealth 0 thoughts on “Knight Frank’s Wealth Report 2020 Published”

Knight Frank published its 2020 Wealth Report this week and as usual, it contains some interesting insights into the mindset and investment trends of the global UHNW community. Below I’ve summarised some of the key findings I think will be of interest to my clients and colleagues also operating in the family wealth industry.

To begin with, the report shows that the number of global UHNWIs (those with assets of more than $30m(£26.5m)) rose by 6% in 2019 to 513,244. This number is expected to increase to 650,000 by 2024 with wealth growing in India, Egypt, Vietnam, China and Indonesia. It’s worth noting however that the Wealth Report is based on information Knight Frank gathered before the Coronavirus was known about and so it remains to be seen how that will affect business in 2020, particularly in China. 

Looking at where these 513,244 UHNWIs are investing their money, property remains the most attractive asset class with 4 out of 5 UHNWIs planning to increase or maintain their current allocations to property in 2020.

Private capital was responsible for $333 billion of commercial real estate purchases in 2020 which was an increase of 5% on the previous year. And while for 2020 24% of UHNWIs plan to invest in domestic commercial property many have also allocated capital for international purchases. Wealthy Middle East investors have the greatest appetite for overseas commercial property with 32% actively targeting commercial property abroad with the UK high on their list of targets.

The office sector remains the primary target for private capital investors, with healthcare, hotels and leisure following closely behind.

ESG investments are also growing in popularity and in the luxury investment market rare whisky has been overtaken by designer handbags as the highest growing luxury asset. An Hermès Kelly bag was sold at Hong Kong Christies in 2019 for US$241,000, setting a new auction record for a non-diamond bag of its type. The value of collectable handbags has risen by an impressive 13% over the last 12 months while whisky and fine art only provided a 5% return on average. 

Also of interest is that 70% of wealth managers responding to the report’s survey said their clients’ philanthropic activities were increasing and 75% are becoming more concerned about climate change. 80% of UHNWIs are also spending more time and money on their personal wellbeing.

It remains to be seen if some of the predictions the report has made will be realised in 2020, or whether a global outbreak of Coronavirus will have a lasting impact, particularly on wealth in China.

Fiducia Partners Insights - Wealth Preservation and Succession in China

Wealth Preservation and Succession In China

January 24th, 2020 Posted by Family Wealth 0 thoughts on “Wealth Preservation and Succession In China”

According to Wealth-X’s most recent Billionaire Census report, there are currently around 285 billionaires in China although other reports suggest the figure is more like 400 with two more created every week – a growth rate almost double that of the US and Europe. 

That there is such vast wealth held by individuals is down to the Chinese culture and the policy measures that encourage and support the private sector. Such support began in 1978 when the then-leader delivered a speech proposing that China learn from richer countries, allow workers and peasants to get ahead and give enterprises the power to make decisions. This was the start for almost all mainland Chinese enterprises that are successful today. And with Chinese culture valuing family so highly, most of these private companies are family-owned, around 80%. Major Chinese companies that are family-owned include the Pacific Construction Group (90% owned by the Yan family), Amer International Group (100% owned by the Wang Wen-Yin family) and GTI Holdings Ltd (100% owned by the Sum Poon family). The collective yearly revenues for these three companies alone hits over $220 billion.

With this relatively recent freedom for enterprise, 97% of Chinese billionaires are self-made with an average age of just 56. This means that many are now thinking about succession likely to occur in the next 10-15 years leading to a phenomenal rate of new family offices being set up. Principles are ageing and so their priorities are shifting from wealth creation to preservation. And due to this wealth being relatively new, the concept of a family office is also new in China compared with Europe, the United States and other parts of Asia, where wealthy families have long used privately help firms to handle investment and wealth management decisions.

But this hasn’t put Chinese families off. On the contrary, in Campden Wealth’s recently released Chinese Family Office and Wealth Management Report 2020 they report that more than 75% of UHNW Chinese families established or joined a family office since 2010. The average net wealth of the families they studied was $943 million and of those not yet using family office services, 75% are interested in doing so. 

According to Campden’s report, most families have opted to manage their wealth through a single-family office (30%), 16% use a commercial multi-family office, 16% use a private multi-family office and 9% use a hybrid vehicle. But there are some key challenges with setting up a family office in China, the most pressing being a lack of experienced talent, which not surprising with it being a relatively new concept. 

And another key problem that many wealthy Chinese principles are facing is how to manage succession into the second generation. China’s One-Child policy that lasted for 35 years until 2016 has left many ageing principles with just one heir. Research shows that there are around three million entrepreneurs reaching the age of retirement and 80% of second-generation heirs have no desire to join their family’s business meaning many will have to look outside of the family for successors.

Aware of these challenges, I will follow with interest the development of family offices in China and how ageing principles will overcome the difficulties of sourcing talent and managing succession. I wonder if, in 30 years, the percentage of wholly and majority-owned family businesses will drop right down as families struggle to interest their sole heirs in taking over. 

Fiducia Partners Insights - Stewarding Your Family's Wealth.png

Stewarding Your Family’s Wealth

December 10th, 2019 Posted by Family Wealth 0 thoughts on “Stewarding Your Family’s Wealth”

Managing your family’s wealth is a great responsibility, especially when it has accumulated over several generations. You don’t want to be the generation that loses it. Where I know families that have made a success of passing on wealth for many generations what they all have in common is that they don’t view the wealth as theirs to do with as they please. Instead it is a legacy that they are entrusted with until the next generation takes over. In essence, they are stewarding the wealth, maintaining and growing it for the next generation to do the same.

But not all families succeed in this way. Where wealth is made, it is often lost in the second or third generation. Successful stewardship requires careful planning and a long-term view. I have previously written about long-term investments that don’t just span 10 years, but 50 or 100 years and multi-generational families whose goal it is to nurture wealth for future generations can make investments and plans for this length of time. They are not investing for their own retirement, but rather for the wellbeing of their children’s children and beyond. It’s one of the reasons why land and property are often staples of family office portfolios. 

But as well as investing smartly and for the long term, I would argue that the hard work required to nurture the wealth for the next generation would be for nothing unless you also take the time to prepare the next generation, both practically and mentally. Inheriting a financial legacy comes with a lot of pressure and responsibility so in terms of practical preparations, discussing your investment plan and strategy behind it, letting the next generation attend meetings with financial advisors and nurturing their financial acumen are all helpful means of preparation. And starting this preparation early not only gives the upcoming generation the best chance of success, it also means they will have at least some preparation if they inherit prematurely. I also know of families that establish ‘subfunds’ where the next generation can gain practical experience in managing money and investments, determining asset allocations, establishing goals and reporting to the family. 

Mental preparation too must not be overlooked. One of the key challenges facing wealthy families is the feeling of entitlement. Particularly when the family has held the wealth for several generations, and children grow up in privilege, it can be challenging to instil the message that creating and maintaining wealth is difficult and requires hard work and dedication. This is where exposing the upcoming generation to the hard work and responsibility that befalls the wealth managers is important. Children often hear that ‘money doesn’t grow on trees’ but seeing really is believing. Educating the upcoming generation about the family history and how the wealth was made and managed in the past also helps to instil a sense of responsibility and legacy. You want them to also think of themselves as stewards whose goal is to preserve the wealth rather than squander it. 

I also think it’s worth being mindful that the preservation of multi-generational wealth also depends on family dynamics. This is because depending on your management structure there may be several other family members on the board of directors or with decision making power and so nurturing family relationships and fostering consensus is important. A coherent family vision can be impeded by generational differences, geographical dispersion or different philanthropic philosophies. It is often helpful to have established governance processes within the family that can help promote a coherent vision and smooth transition to successive generations. Both informal family reunions and formal family stakeholder meetings to discuss values and plans are also key to preserving your legacy. 

Fiducia Partners Insights - When Leaders Won't Let Go Of Running The Family Business

When Leaders Won’t Let Go Of Running The Family Business

November 21st, 2019 Posted by Business, Planning 0 thoughts on “When Leaders Won’t Let Go Of Running The Family Business”

There are many stories in the family business world of leaders struggling to let the next generation take the reins. Or of leaders who pass on the leadership, but then undermine decisions and hang around not fully letting go. It is a complex situation as leaders that have founded the company or lead it to immense success may struggle to visualise anyone else running the business, even if it is a well-prepared heir. 

For example Rupert Murdoch, now age 88, still chairs News Corp and it seems he’s had several power struggles with his eldest son, Lachlan. Lachlan joined his father’s empire in his 20’s but quit working for News Corp in 2005, reportedly due to feeling that his father undermined him in management disputes. Then last year Lachlan was named chairman and CEO of Fox News but it’s been reported that his father is still struggling to let him take the lead, getting involved in Lachlan’s management decisions and ultimately undermining Lachlan’s leadership.

It is not uncommon for leaders like Rupert Murdoch – who have founded or led the company to success – to find it difficult to yield their power to the next generation. Leaders that find it hard to let go do so at the expense of the company. In delaying succession, the next leader might arrive unprepared, or is undermined if the ex-leader hangs around in the capacity of chair or senior advisor. All this can lead to waning company performance and criticism of the new CEO who may either step down or be fired. Relinquishing power can be made easier by having a strong succession plan and nurturing heirs to the point where they should feel comfortable letting go.

But succession and yielding power to the next generation can be done well in more than one way. In the LVMH group chief executive and chairman Bernard Arnault’s children each head different brands in the company, allowing them to demonstrate their leadership skills without being in the direct shadow of their father. This should build trust so that when Bernard is ready to step down he does so with the knowledge that he has successors ready to take the lead. 

In the UK, family-owned bakery chain Warburtons took a clean-cut approach when transferring from the fourth to the fifth generation. When the fourth generation of leaders passed on the leadership of the company, they did so all on the same day. The fourth generation of brothers who managed the company together decided to put in place a robust succession plan and then all left on the same day, handing full leadership over to their children, without trying to hold on or hang around. The company’s experienced team of managers then supported the new generation while they got used to the role. While this is an unusual approach, it does show the huge amount of trust they had in their heirs which in turn should give the new leaders the confidence to make decisive decisions.

While each taking different approaches to succession, what I suspect both LVMH and Warburton’s have in common is proper communication. Successful succession happens when the leading and next generation have an open dialogue and talk about plans and expectations.

Fiducia Partners Insights - Firing A Family Member From The Family Business

Firing A Family Member From The Family Business

November 7th, 2019 Posted by Business, Planning 0 thoughts on “Firing A Family Member From The Family Business”

Firing a long-term employee is difficult. Now imagine firing a family member. Unfortunately, this is sometimes necessary and while it will always be difficult, handling the situation in the right way will limit the damage, both to the business and the relationship. 

Prevention

To prevent this situation from arising in the first place would of course be ideal and when thinking about prevention I think family businesses should start with a clear policy detailing how employees, family or otherwise, can gain employment in the business, be promoted, how they must conduct themselves and what kind of behaviour would lead to review and termination. You might include a rule that no family member can work in the business unless they have had at least 5 years of work experience outside the business, or that they must hold a degree in a relevant subject. And even if they meet the criteria, asking family members to apply to the role like any other candidate allows executives to assess their readiness and aptitude for the role before hiring. As with any employee, you should have an employment contract and role description that their performance can be measured against. All this helps to put the emphasis on merit rather than family status. It must be clear that no family member is owed any position in the company and even once they have a position, they must work to keep it. If such values and procedures are established early on, if termination becomes necessary, they can be referred to and the termination process will be less personal and more procedural.  

In general, unless there has been an incident of gross misconduct, the behaviours that lead to a termination usually take place over a long period of time. Regular performance reviews will also help keep employees on track and prevent a termination from being a surprise to any party. They also provide a useful back-up if the termination is disputed. 360-degree reviews can also work well in a family business by helping to ensure objectivity that can be difficult when family members work together.

Termination

Even with a solid prevention strategy there might still come a time when a family member needs to be fired and while this won’t ever be easy, for the business or the family, it can be eased.

You might first consider damage limitation and your immediate thought will likely be about how you to keep the relationship intact but as the business leader it’s also important to consider the wider perception and impact of the termination to the company. Any major firing can disrupt a business and create fear among employees but firing a family member will do so ten-fold. That said, keeping a family member on when they’re not performing is also damaging by either making non-family employees feel that there is an unfair difference in expected performance or by lowering performance across the staff who follow by example. 

It’s also crucial to make it clear that the business and family are separate and that the reasons for which the person might be terminated do not affect their worthiness as a member of the family. In the business, the needs of the business must come first and firing the person from the business does not mean firing them from the family. Equally, avoid talking about the situation with other family members who are uninvolved in the management of the business. This will only cause people to take sides and increase tension around the subject.

The board of directors can be a useful tool to provide advice and support, particularly if there are non-family members on the board as it helps to ensure impartiality. However, the board should not be used as an excuse or proxy to carry out the termination. The final decision rests with the CEO and they should be the one to deliver the news, whether they’re a family member or not. 

However, before serving a termination notice it’s a good idea to offer the person an honourable way out by suggesting resignation. If it has reached the point where termination is necessary one would hope that all parties know the reasons and it is not a surprise. The conversation about resignation would include an honest conversation about performance and also reassurance that it doesn’t affect their status in the family. Having an impartial third person in the room, be that a board member or outside consultant, can also help to temper emotions and keep the conversation on track.

If the resignation offer is not accepted and a termination notice must be delivered, be as specific as possible and utilise evidence such as performance reviews. With clear, empirical reasons the person may recognise the reason to leave and do so without the family relationship being damaged.

In summary, the process of firing a family member will never be damage-free or emotion-free for any of the people involved or the business but being open and honest will go a long way to limiting the damage. 

Fiducia Partners insights - Bringing A Non-Family CEO Into The Family Business

Bringing A Non-Family CEO Into The Family Business

October 18th, 2019 Posted by Business 0 thoughts on “Bringing A Non-Family CEO Into The Family Business”

There are times in the life of a multigenerational family business when it might be suitable to appoint a non-family member to lead it. There could be many reasons for this with the most common being that when a succession is due to take place there are no family members qualified or willing to take up the role. In this case some families may hire non-family CEOs to serve as a “bridge” while the rising generation acquires the necessary experience or knowledge, whereas other families may choose to fully transition into the role of owner-investors, ceding ongoing management to non-family professionals.

Needing to source a CEO from outside the family shouldn’t be seen as a failure, rather an opportunity. It’s a chance for fresh eyes to consider new areas of business or growth opportunities that family members, having learnt from other family members, may not see. They can bring expertise not available in the family and depending on what the family wants for the business they can choose a CEO with the right skills and experience from a far wider pool than if only looking within the family. 

One significant advantage of bringing in a non-family CEO is that it also opens up an opportunity for better communication. The CEO can act as an effective liaison between generations to ensure mutual understanding. Where there are several branches of the family with an interest in the business it may also widen options for the next successor. Even inside the same family there can be factions, with each faction interested in their branch succeeding in the family business. A non-family CEO is able to impartially appraise who in the family might be suited to certain roles without bias, unconscious or otherwise.  

However, the benefits of appointing a non-family CEO can only be achieved if family members respect the authority of the CEO, and don’t undermine him or her. This is easier said than done, as I have witnessed several times. Bringing in a non-family CEO is a big transition for most family businesses and is therefore challenging. 

As well as being willing to accept the change the family should also look to mend fractured relationships and resolve tensions before appointing the new CEO. While a non-family CEO can perform a certain amount of mediation it is not their main job and spending all their time managing difficult family relationships will make it much too difficult to perform their role as CEO effectively. 

Once the family is prepared for the introduction of the non-family CEO, the CEO must also play their part to make a success of the situation. I’ve worked with many wealthy families and their businesses over my working life and where I’ve seen successful non-family CEOs they all seem to establish these key principles early on:

First, that they are separate from family affairs and family politics. Maintaining impartiality and not getting involved in family matters ensures that both family members and other staff trust the non-family CEO and respect their authority.  

Second, that they establish clear rules that focus on equality. In many family businesses there aren’t the formal structures and rules that may exist in a non-family business. While this can work for smaller businesses, where a non-family CEO is appointed it is important to implement policies that clarify the rules for everyone to follow, whatever their status or seniority. This is key to maintaining impartiality and independence throughout the CEOs tenure. 

Such an approach is likely to move the business towards a structure much more formal than the family might be used to. However, I argue that this should be a welcome change for most family businesses. It not only opens up opportunities for growth but also makes working in the business more attractive to other, non-family talent who might not usually consider a family business where their growth opportunities are traditionally limited. 

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