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Family Offices Expand Financial Protection to Include Physical Protection

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If you got a call saying your child, visiting the ancient sites in Egypt with school, was missing from the group as crowds demonstrated in the beginning of the revolution there, what would you do? If your father was taken ill while on safari in Kenya, who would you call? If you discovered your identity had been stolen, what would your first move be?

While it would be comforting to have those answers at your fingertips, it would be even better to hear about threats when they are still in alert form and be able to avoid them altogether. That’s the idea behind a new service for wealthy families, according to Family Wealth Alliance (FWA) CEO Tom Livergood. FWA will roll out the new idea later this year.

Threat Awareness

Livergood has a new idea, one that FWA is rolling out later this year. The new initiative that is one part Kroll, one part U.S. State Department/Homeland Security/Navy Seals, one part concierge medicine, and one part family manager. The Alliance Security Council will bring together expertise in many areas of risk and threat assessment and prevention for families, with the idea that if families know the risks they face, this can help prevent them from occurring. But, if the unthinkable happens, there is also help.

The risks run from the fairly ordinary, yet difficult issues of severe illness, to extraction from, say, riots in Egypt; from kidnapping to ensuring that household staff is properly vetted, hired and managed. If being aware and alert to threats that could prevent a family catastrophe or if best practices can prevent or mitigate damage to a family’s reputation, then this service may be as necessary as car insurance for wealthy families.

The Security Council would provide trainingand tools to family office relationship managers, enabling them “assess risk,” Livergood says, and to add this to the services they now provide for families. It would seem to be a good service for all involved, since previously, if families were even aware of these kinds of threats, they pulled together on an ad hoc basis the disparate entities necessary for the extraction of an ill family member trekking in Tibet or to find the best medical facilities and doctors to treat a newly-diagnosed and serious illness. 

The Security Council has identified 10 core areas of threats and is bringing in “best-of-breed resources to identify, alert, prevent and respond if an emergency arises: 

  1. Personal
  2. Privacy
  3. Physical
  4. Medical
  5. Collections
  6. Staffing
  7. Sustainability
  8. Reputation
  9. Enterprise
  10. Philanthropy

As with insurance, or any other risk mitigation, everyone would hope never to have to use it—being aware of the threat and preventing it would be job one. But as we see every day, as Livergood puts it, “life happens.” And when it does, having the resources in place to respond immediately can be the difference between a good outcome and an irrevocable one that changes a family forever.