The Private world of the very, very rich, part 5: Networking groups

This is Part Five of a series by The Inheritance Project about the role of a variety of institutions and other organizations created to serve the financial—and sometimes also social—needs of UHNW (Ultra-high net worth) individuals and families. I thought a quick review would be useful: Part 1 was an introduction; Part 2 was devoted to banks, private banks, and trust companies; Part 3 describes the role of family offices; and Part 4 is about multi-family offices.

Part Five—networking groups—is related to family offices and multi-family offices but with the distinction that these groups groups do not manage money or give any financial advice. Joseph Reilly, founder and president of one such group, the Family Office Association (FOA), describes networking groups like this:

“UHNW (ultra-high-net-worth) networking groups began as a way of getting families together to share ideas and strategies for managing private wealth. At a certain point [i.e., a certain level of wealth], the managing of personal or family wealth becomes very complicated, and the need to keep your life private makes it very difficult to find peers to discuss these issues. Groups like the Family Office Association are helpful in providing a safe place to meet other families and family-office executives, while also hearing the best speakers and thought leaders talk about hedge funds, family governance issues, and philanthropic issues.”

Needless to say, membership in these groups and as their meetings is totally confidential. Each networking group has its own particular style and flavor. Some are truly global in scope (FOA, for example); others are—at least so far—just North American. For example, Tiger 21 is a U.S.-based organization founded in 1991, with offices in 5 cities, which is now interested in forming groups in Canada’s largest cities. Tiger 21 describes itself as a “premier peer-to-peer learning group for high-net-worth investors. . . . Members meet monthly to harness the varied expertise and collective intelligence of their peers in high-energy, day-long sessions.”

The Institute for Private Investors, (IPI) also founded in 1991, is another networking group which, like Tiger 21, describes itself as a “discreet peer-to-peer networking [group], … a safe harbor for families with substantial wealth to learn from each other and leading experts while fostering lifelong relationships with like-minded peers.”

Still another is the CCC Alliance, described as “a group of successful families and individuals that collaborate regularly on wealth management and family office matters.” CCC Alliance, founded in 1995, holds quarterly meetings.

Despite my attempts to describe the role and activities of family offices, multi-family offices, and networking groups, I have found the fruit of my efforts fairly unsatisfying. My apologies for the dryness of these last few blog posts. I feel like I am standing outside an opaque window with my nose pressed against the glass; my curiosity remains unsatisfied. Nevertheless, I think it is useful even to have a somewhat vague idea of the existence of these organizations, to which the 99 % (myself included) will always remain outsiders.

The last blog post in this series will consist of a few final comments.