The Wall Street Journal


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Helping 'Global' Families

Never mind navigating the complexities of cross-border tax and currency issues, one wealthy family couldn’t even sort out how to a make a phone call. Specifically, a conference call involving seven or eight family members in the Far East, Europe and the U.S. The idea was to make it a weekly event to strengthen ties weakened by distance, age and culture. But the family couldn’t agree on when to call. Work hours for some was down time for others, and no one would budge.

“People underestimate the time-zone issue,” said Charles Lowenhaupt, who runs Lowenhaupt Global Advisors, a St.Louis-based wealth-management firm with about $700 million under management and a subsidiary in Australia.
LGA helped the family get through the impasse. The calls, now part of its routine, have “changed the whole tone,” said Lowenhaupt. Instead of drifting apart, the family is coming together.
Super-rich families are getting more global, and wealth managers like Lowenhaupt say the trend is an opportunity for financial advisers who can help them make more of their crossborder holdings and relationships. In a portion that has grown since 2008, families worth at least $50 million have about a third of their portfolios in offshore stocks, hedge funds and private investments, according to the Institute for Private Investors, a New York-based networking resource for the ultra rich.

But some wealthy families do more than invest outside their home markets. They own second homes, operate businesses, fund charities and work abroad–boots-on-the-ground stuff that can lead to more lasting ties.

“It’s a more global, interconnected world now than ever,” said Leslie Voth, president of Pitcairn, a wealth-management firm based in Jenkintown, Pa., that manages about $4 billion for 112 families. A few months ago, Pitcairn co-founded the Wigmore Association to share insights and due diligence on home-market investment managers and products with HQ Trust in Germany, the Myer Family Co. in Australia, Northwood Family Office in Canada, Sand Aire in the U.K. and another U.S. outfit called Progency 3. The idea is to help clients participate in “the increasingly global nature of investing” without having an adviser “there on the ground,” Voth said.

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