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Rebecca Bettany – Diary of a Private Office – June


In May we saw families settling into the new normal. For many it has been positive and has allowed time for discussions with younger generations, whilst older patriarchs for the first time contemplate their mortality. We have put together “fireside chat” lists of challenging questions for families – none of which have right or wrong answers, but an agreed path makes a family more powerful.

There has also been a more intense focus on environmental impact. We have had discussions on tracing supply chains for family businesses to make sure that they fit in with the ethos of the family. It is not always enough to be philanthropic or follow an impact investment strategy – families want to control their environmental footprint.

Interestingly, perhaps ironically, there is also more demand for private aviation than ever. Our aviation team based in Jersey has been co-ordinating new plane purchases, including financing and appropriate structuring to make sure they are ring-fenced from other assets. The private office has helped clients with plane chartering – although a couple of families have done away with the cabin crew – preferring to stay isolated in the cabin and pour their own drinks!

On the marine side, it looks as though there will be a season in the Mediterranean this year after all, and the team is organising the sterilisation of vessels, Covid-19 testing of crews and completion of works to get the boats on the water – although generally the season will start and end later given the delay to winter maintenance works.

In terms of investments, it has been a case of sitting tight with the liquid investments, but real estate assets in particular have needed a lot of work. Quite a few of our teams have been getting in touch with tenants to understand their position and review cash flow forecasts and, where necessary, adjust financing arrangements. Some families have taken this as an opportunity to go ahead with development work.

Most interesting though is how it has been business as usual – many of the projects we are working on started before coronavirus, and the families involved have not changed their plans at all.