Conference Call: Southeastern Family Office Forum focuses on family purpose
The Southeastern Family Office Forum — or SEFOF, as it is affectionately called in the industry — has been around for 13 years. The notoriously private, family-office-led conference has been bringing family offices and family businesses from the region together to share their stories and learn from their peers.
I’ve known about this event for years. Family office friends of mine would say how it was the highlight of their year and felt like the connections made at SEFOF far surpassed others.
This year, I had the pleasure of being invited myself by my longtime industry colleague Brian Hughes, who sits on the conference’s executive committee and is the founder and president of Hughes Growth Strategies.
Having covered the family office space for over 15 years, I understand the need for discretion. Families want to create a safe space where they can learn and share challenges, opportunities and lessons learned — and not feel as if they have to hold anything back.
I was thrilled to be part of such a collaborative event. A transformative moment for me was learning more about legacy planning from one of the keynote speakers, Matt Paxton, who rose to fame on the popular show “Hoarders.” Today, he runs his own successful estate clean-out business and has his own new TV show, “Legacy List with Matt Paxton,” on PBS.
Paxton eloquently discussed the deep connection between “stuff” and memories, a concept that sounds simple but is beyond complex.
His advice? When families start to think about what they want their legacy to be, start by choosing five items they own and identifying why they mean so much to them, while discarding others that no longer serve them.
What winds up happening is that the stories told by those five items help crystalize the story of the family. With those stories, families can then start to build out further legacy-planning concepts and find a way to preserve the story long after all of the stuff is gone.
Another highlight of my time at SEFOF was a workshop session run by Ella Chase and Michelle Langdon of Wellth Works, a consultancy that focuses on female wealth inheritors. The theme was imposter syndrome and how women can rise above it. The session included interactive exercises where women worked in groups to accomplish a simple-yet-important task: introducing themselves.
Attending conferences shouldn’t just be a tick-the-box exercise in an overall job function. You should take time away from your office to learn something and connect with others in your space on a human level. SEFOF allowed me the space to do that, and I look forward to doing it again for many years to come.