The rise of family offices
Companies that handle the money of relatives with large assets also offer a variety of other unusual services
The term "family office" used to mean the ultra-discreet investment managers who ran portfolios for the likes of the Oppenheimers and the Ruperts. The term is now being used by some businesses that are prepared to offer a similar service to those with "just" R100m in spare change. The first business in SA to brand itself as a family office was Stonehage Fleming. It was formed by the merger of Stonehage, which focused primarily on helping South Africans manage their overseas assets, and the family office interests of the UK’s Fleming family. The best-known member was Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond. The family sold its merchant bank and unit trust business Robert Fleming to Chase Manhattan (later acquired by JPMorgan) in 2000. Being a Scottish family, it was determined to ensure that the proceeds were managed prudently. It is unlikely that Stonehage Fleming will ever acquire a client as complex as the Fleming family itself: almost 250 family members are serviced by the firm. For m...