June 26, 2023: Next generation drives global family office expansion
Family offices know no bounds, as we discovered during our reporting for this week’s lead story. Families are broadening their view of the world by setting up international offices, primarily driven by the next generation’s interest in investing globally. Family offices from around the world sound off on key challenges they face when taking the show on the road, most notably things like establishing a liaison with local governments, language barriers and investing directly into international businesses.
We also share with you the story of the Palmaz family. They’re known today in Northern California for their sustainable food and agricultural businesses, but their story began in Argentina in the late 1970s. The family’s patriarch, Julio Palmaz, created a remarkable invention—the first balloon-expandable stent. The family, now in the third generation, keeps their entrepreneurial spirit alive by continuing to innovate in their core business.
We plan to deepen our coverage of family enterprises by showcasing how they operate, how they're structured and how family members come together to create thriving businesses.
As always, we appreciate any comments, ideas and insights that would make this newsletter more useful. I look forward to growing this family office community with your help. Please email me at [email protected].
HANDPICKED: Next generation drives global family office expansion
By MARCUS BARAM
Family offices are increasingly becoming international, with locations scattered across the globe, to take advantage of friendlier tax and regulatory compliance in other countries and pursue direct deals with promising startups around the world.
Spurred by next-gen family members, the pandemic-related rise in remote work and new technologies, the cross-border growth also presents challenges — legal, cultural and logistical — that need to be overcome.
"Certainly the idea of the multijurisdictional family office has taken off in the last couple of years," said Andrew Douglass, managing director of AlTi Tiedemann Global, a global wealth and asset management firm. In recent years, the two hot spots attracting family offices are Dubai and Singapore, which appeal to high-net-worth families from Asia and Europe due to their low taxes and lack of significant capital controls. In addition, Geneva, London and the U.S. continue to draw families from around the world.
"We're always looking for more opportunities, collaborations and partnerships — that's what made us global," said Lakshmi Narayanan, chairman of the board of the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute and a partner at the Patel Family Office, which has been international for over 50 years. Since relocating from India to the UK and then the U.S., it now has a presence in Dubai and Singapore as well.
"We acquire companies in a lot of those markets," Narayanan said.
The family, which made its fortune in hospitality and hotels, really expanded in recent years. "The pandemic taught us the need as a family office to diversify into other countries through co-investments with other family offices or direct investments into companies," said Dipika Patel, chairwoman of the family office.
The improved deal flow of international operations is a key priority for next-gen family members, said Michael Danov, president and chief investment officer of SBP Management, a single-family office that has expanded from Israel to the U.S. and Dubai, Austria and Monaco.
"The younger generation like myself are all about the direct deals and more entrepreneurship," Danov said. "We know how to manage our own capital. We don't need to invest in funds to make us returns."
But when you go global, there are a host of challenges, said Douglass, who has advised a family office that wants to expand into Asia and now has to deal with finding the right partner or hiring the right talent and building out a team. They include hiring local people who understand the regulatory and legal structures of that country and others who are linked to the network of investors and entrepreneurs there.
"They must ensure compliance with both home- and host-country regulations, which may require duplicate tax and legal teams to handle the specific requirements of each jurisdiction," said Raymond DiNunzio, a partner at TOS Advisors who has worked with family offices in Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, the Cayman Islands, Panama, Peru, Canada, Switzerland and Puerto Rico.
One of his partners, Ricardo, recently guided a wealthy Mexican family in establishing a new office in the U.S. "That was a huge project, with 26 legal, tax and financial partners south of the border and an equal complement in the U.S.," DiNunzio said.
Per that example, he also increased operational costs, which can come with expanded operations. "Operating in multiple jurisdictions often entails higher expenses due to additional legal, compliance and administration requirements," DiNunzio said.
WHEN IN ROME (OR DUBAI)
The Patel Family Office recently announced a Middle Eastern partnership to help smooth their entry into that region. "There's no way to operate in the Mideast without having partnerships there," Narayanan said. "It's hard to learn the local culture, the way the business is done, even the language barrier.
"It's not easy to go global. You can have a global presence, but if you want to run a successful operation, you need to find local partners."
In addition, Douglass said, family governance issues can become more complicated. "How do you ensure a smooth transition when you move?" he said. "And are you making sure that you're training the next gen to manage that multijurisdictional office."
Other challenges involve data and privacy, said Francois Botha, a family office consultant, who explained that it's key to note the jurisdictions in which your data is being warehoused and how that is being shared with third parties, such as governments.
Overall, the advantages outweigh the cons, say international family office members.
"You're opening up to different opportunities, investment opportunities that may only be accessible through the region that you're in," said Douglass. "It's a challenge, but that's also where the opportunity lies."
Patel puts it more bluntly about her family office's desire to go global and diversify its investments: "Don't put all your eggs in one basket."
How the Palmaz family turned their passion into a profit
By KRISTEN OLIVERI
While the Palmaz family is known today in California for its sustainable wine and food business, their story actually began in Argentina in the late 1970s. Patriarch Julio Palmaz started his career as an interventional radiologist who went on to make one remarkable invention: the first balloon-expandable stent.
In pursuit of the stent’s development, Palmaz decided to move his young family to the United States. After receiving excellent clinical results, the stent was licensed and sold to Johnson & Johnson. All the while, Julio and his wife, Amalia, were building a life for their family in California.
“My parents lived in Northern California when they first moved to the U.S. in 1978,” said Christian Palmaz, COO of Palmaz vineyards and a second-generation family member. “My father worked at the VA hospital and worked on his residency at UC Davis. Their weekends were spent in Napa Valley falling in love with its wines. The valley was a particularly charming place back then, mostly filled with family-owned small vineyards.”
The family’s love of the region and the wine began to grow, eventually leading them in 2003 to purchase the land that is now known as Palmaz Vineyards, incorporating the first- and second-generation family members into its new family business. The vineyard — comprising 640 acres and spanning three elevations and a multitude of soil types and microclimates — produces all five Bordeaux varietals (cabernet sauvignon, petit verdot, merlot, malbec and cabernet franc), three whites (chardonnay, Riesling and muscat) and grenache for its rose.
For the family, innovation is at the forefront of the winemaking process. The winery is built into an 18-story cavern to allow for gravity-flow winemaking and natural temperature control. In addition, Palmaz, who is also the president of a material science company, created the first fully algorithmic fermentation management system leveraging artificial intelligence and also an advanced remote sensing application called VIGOR that has been recognized for its effect on water conservation.
Today, gen two is running the day-to-day operations at Palmaz. The family employs a unique structure that incorporates all members into the business. The siblings, along with their in-laws, take turns as CEO and president. Florencia Palmaz is the current CEO, Jessica Palmaz the chief marketing officer and Christian Palmaz the COO. Julio and Amalia Palmaz are still involved in every detail, Christian Palmaz said.
“Our roles are quite broad, but in general, Florencia leads the overall stylistic direction of the wines and company, working very closely with the winemaking team,” he said. “Jessica runs the customer experience and commercial operations, and I run operations of the farming and winery program.
“We all consider this a legacy business far beyond our own time and constantly look to the up-and-coming third generation.”
The family continues to grow and evolve in the sustainable-food industry, keeping the family’s ethos of entrepreneurship alive. The family’s latest venture, Genesee Valley Ranch, is a wagyu beef company based high in the California Sierras. The property they purchased includes expansive natural, uncultivated grasslands that produce purebred wagyu beef.
“Being a family from Argentina, beef is a big part of our culture and cuisine,” said Christian Palmaz. “Moving to the U.S., we were surprised by the lack of connection the consumer often had with the provenance of the beef products they buy, especially in the luxury sector. Beyond the butcher counter, the story of place, people or terroir was often completely lacking.”
And like many popular Napa Valley wineries, the family business has launched what they call the Brasas club, which offers both wine and ranch memberships providing members access to all wines before they're released and a comprehensive farm-to-fork subscription including its 100% grass-fed prime Wagyu.
The Palmaz family continues to evolve its business and is constantly looking to incorporate their Argentine heritage into everything they touch.
When asked about the future of the family business, Palmaz had this to say: “Family, sustainability and an unwavering commitment to quality define our future vision.”
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Help us with a story: We’re looking for next-gen family members who are involved in their family’s business to share their stories. Please email me at [email protected].