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How five family offices are weathering a virus-wracked world

The Covid-19 outbreak has been characterised as a pandemic. Five family offices managing over 120 rich families tell us how they are coping as infections outside China continue to rise.

Volatile markets, travel restrictions and a slowdown in deals – these are challenges that family offices face today. 

Five outfits, representing at least 127 families in all, tell Citywire Asia how they are navigating coronavirus-related risks. 

The families they represent live in Asia and the Middle East.

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Volatile markets, travel restrictions and a slowdown in deals – these are challenges that family offices face today. 

Five outfits, representing at least 127 families in all, tell Citywire Asia how they are navigating coronavirus-related risks. 

The families they represent live in Asia and the Middle East.

Windsor Family Office – one family

When Youssry Henien took a trip to the US last month, he planned to travel to Switzerland and London, before returning to Singapore.

But the chairman of Windsor Family Office is staying in California until the situation improves. 

‘I don’t want to take any risks to be honest. I even told my employees to work remotely.

‘Obviously, the market has been very erratic. But it’s a good opportunity for me as well when it comes to acquisition because valuations are so low now,’ Henien said. 

He recently made an offer to acquire a bank in Liechtenstein.

 

Tsao Family Office – one family

The family of the late shipping magnate Frank Tsao hasn’t made major shifts to its portfolio. 

They came into the crisis positioned somewhat conservatively, said investment director Leslie Lim. 

As a result, they are looking to add risk in the coming days and weeks. ‘Many areas in equities and credit are already looking quite attractive.

‘That said, we see the potential for further negative sentiments or headlines near-term, and so expect those opportunities to get even more attractive,’ Lim added.

 

RHL Ventures – five families

The Malaysian multi-family office mostly invests in the private space, but it uses public markets as an indicator of sentiment. 

It manages the assets of five Southeast Asian families. With politics taking center stage in Malaysia, deals there may be held off until Parliament reconvenes in May, said Rachel Lau, RHL’s managing partner. 

Otherwise, it’s business as usual. ‘The problem with the virus is that it’s a slow death to a lot of businesses. You don’t really see the effects.

‘With an oil shock for example, you see a 30% wipe-out or a 40% stock price fall. So I get a lot of questions about that,’ Lau said. 

Envysion Wealth Management – 20 families

Clients are a little jittery. But they are less leveraged than they were during the 2008 financial crisis.

‘Since the experience, a lot of clients are also less adventurous when it comes to investments,’ said CEO and founder Veronica Shim. 

‘In fact, most of my client assets are in fixed income so the volatility is not that high in these market conditions.’

The multi-family office, which was founded in January, has $300m to $400m in AUM. 

Its clients come from the Middle East, North Asia and Southeast Asia, that includes Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia.

 

Carret Private & Lumen Capital Investors – over 100 families

The Hong Kong and Singapore multi-family offices merged last September, but they are still operating as separate legal entities.

They represent over 100 families with more than $2bn in assets. 

Kenny Ho, managing partner at Carret, is running performance checks on advisory and discretionary portfolios twice a day.

‘We are more hands-on. In times of duress, we like to be in very close contact with our clients to keep them apprised of the situation. 

‘I guess if we weren’t calling them, they’d be calling us. But we are pretty active in staying in front of our clients,’ Ho said.

 

 

 

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