While every Family Office offers a unique experience to those it serves, it is only every once in a while, that we find ourselves with an opportunity that is truly life-changing.
This week, we have been presented with a role that does exactly that.
Earlier on in the week, you might have noticed that we were seeking a Russian-Speaking and Investment-Driven Head of Family Office for an UHNW family in London. And, if you didn’t, you can find it here.
Now, on the surface, it may seem like an ordinary Head of Family Office role but, on closer inspection you will realise it has life-changing potential.
Rather than take our word for it, we decided to interview a Chief Investment Officer who, in a similar fashion, applied for what he thought was an unexceptional office job aged 21 that would allow him to travel the world. As a post-qualified Accountant, he thought a desk job practicing accountancy in Bermuda would at least allow him to travel out of Glasgow.
But, after just six years that Accountant became the Chief Investment Officer and from the East End of Glasgow, Ian Buchanan, the qualified accountant, was managing the Family Office growing investment portfolio and it took him across the world:
“We had acquired mainly farming properties in developing countries, so we had a sugar-cane operation in Brazil, coffee and corn in Honduras, cattle in Guatemala, tourism in Jamaica, an island in Fiji and a farm in Portugal. With no farming experience I was put on to managing all of these properties and spent much of my time on planes travelling between them. It was a huge learning curve to try to manage businesses in developing countries, often with high inflation rates, depreciating currencies and extensive economic and political problems.”
The black and white advertisement in the Financial Times that Ian came across one evening in 1981 changed his life forever and we believe this role has the potential to do exactly that.
But what makes a good CIO?
Ian believes it’s all about Trust. He said: “Family Offices are very different; they are unlike the corporate world. What tends to happen is that while there are lots of talented people out there that a family could hire tomorrow, the individuals need to fit in with the family and the family needs to like them. If you put yourself in the shoes of a wealthy individual, you want someone who is good at their job, but also a person that you like and trust.
“There are some unusual traits of the Family Office which may make it a difficult transition from a corporate environment but once a Family Office gets the right person, they want to keep them and the family will go out of their way to make that job secure, interesting, and financially attractive.
“I was largely thrown into things I had no experience of and often had to learn on my feet, especially when I was running the properties in developing countries. That was a huge learning experience for me. I was an Accountant from Glasgow and they sent me to Guatemala to manage a farm, I had no idea what I was doing but they expected me to learn. When I started running investments, I don’t think I’d ever properly read the FT prior to that. The point is, the Family is very comfortable, when they have found someone, they think is good, putting them into environments where they have no experience. If you have common sense and you are smart you can largely do most things. If you are talented, families are willing to push you forward to represent them because they trust you to handle the project on their behalf.”
Ian offers a unique insight into the incredible career path only available within the world of Family Offices. As an Accountant from Glasgow, he was able to travel the world, grow sugar-cane in Brazil, roast coffee beans in Honduras, wander across an Island in Fiji, and manage a farm in Portugal. Most importantly, Ian was able to become a valued member of the senior leadership team within six years and he remains today with a vast team, an incredible portfolio, and memories only imaginable within the world of Practice.
Jeremy Green, Head of UK Team at Agreus Group said: “Opportunities to head up a Family Office, especially a new Family Office, come few and far between and we are understandably in-undated with interest when we do have a like opportunity because it is an aspirational role.
“The Family is putting their trust in you to lead their Family Office and having responsibility for those assets is not only extremely exciting but also, can offer the opportunity to invest alongside your Principal as part as your Long-Term Incentive Plan (LTIP) which is largely inaccessible to anyone else. It is an incredible opportunity and one that for the right person, is truly life changing.
“That isn’t to say anyone is the right fit because you need to be not just intelligent and competent, but able to fit in with the culture of the family. You need to, as Ian has outlined, be both personable and trustworthy.
“ Most Family Offices do not serve as good environments for those with egos. You need to be professional, expert and willing to work to provide the best-case solution for your Principal at all times. Your very purpose is to reach the best investment decisions and actually, not just preserve their capital and reach the best return but support any other endeavour the Principal requires. Some of these might not provide the best return but it may well fulfil the dream of a Principal. You need to constantly find the best way of supporting your Principal and their wealth, mitigate risk and create the best return and if you are both up for the challenge and competent, likeable and trustworthy, driven and passionate, this role could just change your life.”
If you are ready for an adventure, Russian-Speaking, Investment-Driven and passionate about growing with a Family Office in its very early stages, please reach out and see where this next step might take you.