After leaving the army, where he served as a cavalry officer, the head of LJ Partnership’s private office, Charles Filmer, was headhunted to work for Sir James Goldsmith, which he did for 13 years, becoming a partner and managing the Goldsmith private offices globally, until Sir James’ death. He then founded Unicorn, a UK-based private and family office business, which was acquired by LJ Partnership in 2014 to form an integral part of the business model.
Today, the main challenges in the private office division of the firm relate to compliance and jurisdictional changes that are continuously evolving, with HNW families increasingly looking for help navigating through these, he says. ‘The role of the Private Family Office is to act as a central point of coordination, representing the family’s core values in all aspects of their private and corporate lives.’
Two other themes stand out. Firstly, wealthy families are increasingly making investments and collaborating with other families through organisations like LJ Partnership, rather than through conventional financial institutions. We have for example, seen families joining together to invest in property or philanthropic projects. More families are involved in ‘club’ type deals rather than relying on institutions to find investments for them.
Secondly, wealthy families throughout the generations are more connected with their wealth. The younger generation (18-35 yr. olds) are more in tune with what the family does and what it stands for and they are more involved in the family businesses than in the past when the patriarch or the matriarch tended to shelter the younger generation. This younger generation is much more socially and environmentally aware and they instigate change more readily. They have a strong ethical sense and care about how their family wealth is deployed – it is not just about making money.
From tax structuring and succession planning to personal banking and lifestyle management, LJ Private Office deals with the broad and often varied spectrum of needs of the HNW family, and few are better qualified for the job than Filmer. ‘For the majority of my career, I have looked after the non-investment needs of high net worth families,’ he explains.
As a whole, LJ Partnership has three pillars – a direct investment and private equity platform, a wealth management and advisory service, and trust and administration services. ‘It is a collaboration of families, individuals and foundations from a variety of industries, continents and cultures, who have sought to take more control of their wealth,’ Filmer explains. And the firm, which now operates as a 200-strong international operation at eight (soon to be eleven) offices, supervising over £11bn of assets, continues to grow having made a number of acquisitions across Europe, the US and Asia in the past year.
The business is global with a client base that includes a range of diverse families from all over the world, very often with first or second generation entrepreneurial wealth with some kind of link to the UK or a desire to relocate to Britain. An interesting trend is the growing number of Chinese investor Visa applications, says Filmer. ‘Brexit has become a non-issue for the Chinese who more than ever want to educate their children in the UK and invest here.’
Filmer also understands that ‘HNW’s are more connected with their wealth’, and are thus more connected with their professional advisors: if you don’t do a good job, you are very quickly found out,’ he says. ‘It is all about having a strong track record and experience in our industry.’
LJ Partnership will rebrand to Alvarium Investments in 2019.