How to Build a Top 1% Family Office: Lessons from Angelo Robles | Curiosity Code 015
31 May, 2024
In this episode of the Curiosity Code podcast, Alex sits down with Angelo Robles, a distinguished figure in the family office industry. Angelo, founder and CEO of CFO Continuity and Family Office Masterclass, shares his journey from establishing the Family Office Association to his current ventures, emphasizing the importance of hiring well and creating dynamic, engaging family offices. The conversation delves into the challenges faced in maintaining wealth across generations, highlighting the significance of communication, decision-making, and embracing technology within family offices. Angelo also touches on the rapid evolution of technology and AI, predicting its indispensable role in the future of family offices. Furthermore, he offers advice for those interested in the family office domain, stressing the need for continuous learning, resilience, and the pursuit of excellence. This insightful discussion provides a comprehensive overview of the complexities and opportunities within the family office landscape, offering valuable lessons on leadership, innovation, and the importance of building a legacy with intention and foresight.

Alex: Hi everyone, and welcome to our new episode of the Charistico podcast. Today we're happy to have Angelo Robles, a leading expert in the family office industry. Angelo is a founder and CEO at CEO for Contini and family Office Masterclass. He has extensive experience and has transformed family offices for some of the most successful families in the world, helping them to create and maintain dynamic and engaging family offices on a generational level. Angelo also founded the Family Office association, the leading family office training and consulting organization, which he shares in his podcasts, publications, and workshops. I really look forward to our conversation. We're going to start. Welcome to the show, Angelo.

Guest: It's my pleasure, Alex. Thank you for inviting me on.

Alex: Hey, it's time for a short break. This episode is brought to you by product Terra Yourself fintech Innovation partner. And this is why that matters. Over seven years ago, I created an agency to help fintech entrepreneurs create exceptional user experiences and cutting edge software. And over the years, our team has expanded to over 30 experts in machine learning, engineering, and cloud architecture. We've guided our clients through all stages from idea conception to multimillion dollars acquisition when it comes to secure fintech solutions product era, easier choice. Now, back to the show. All right, I usually start these conversations with just a brief overview of your professional journey. Can you share the journey that led you to establishing the family Offices association and later, SFO continuity and family office masterclass? Maybe you can share what inspired you to focus on specifically family offices and how your vision has evolved over the years.

Guest: Of course, I founded family office association coming up. I mean, technically on really close to 20 years. It's been a long time now. I sold. I had a complete exit from family office association a little over a year ago. Was a labor aloe. If I had to give a secret, which applies to family offices, to entrepreneurs, to anyone. Hire well. So that's a word. H I r E. Hire. But hire well. It's very, very important when we get to things that are more active in a family office and really everything, we'll come back to people hiring and the value of that. I had a chance to create both my podcast, which is hosted on my family office tv. I love to teach, so I have family office masterclass, where there's not really a lot of deep, immersive content for people that have been in the trenches within a single family office, that's not boring in vanilla. So I try to mix that up a little bit. And I have a private group that you mentioned, a club for 30 founding members as single family offices called SFO continuity. And I share my best practices and the work that I do in families getting together in New York, Palm Beach, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, La. And I have been to Europe multiple times. I'm pretty deeply entrenched in central Europe. It's always a pleasure to travel, and I've been around the world creating family offices from the Middle east to Africa to of course, Europe, and obviously my own backyard in North America. What led me down the family office journey and starting companies and being an entrepreneur? Well, we all learned the hard way. I've been an entrepreneur since I was young. I know what it's like to think of an idea, then bring it to fruition. I also know what it's like to bring an idea to fruition, execute it, and it doesn't work. It fails. Not everything that we judge, even billionaires that I know, turns to goals. So it's not that we fail, it's that we put in the effort and tried and hopefully we learned lessons that we could take with us as we move forward. But I've been active in the world of starting my own companies, active in real estate, active in, when I was much younger, I really had a very short stint in college, so I don't really have an overly educational background. I don't come from a family that would have a family office, very much the opposite. But I always had big goals, big dreams, big aspirations. I always was starting and founding something. I got active in sales when I was younger. That was a very, very good thing because that teaches you not only a lot of life skills, but a lot of valuable lessons to move forward. When you build a company, you really have a hobby until you show that you could make a profit. And to do that, you're going to have to be good at some level at marketing and sales. If you don't sell and bring in capital and resources, again, you have more of a hobby, then you have a company. But if I count my years from real estate to broadly, insurance, investing, the banking industry, wow. I guess I'm giving away my age. I probably go back to about 30 or so years.

Alex: That's impressive. Let's focus a bit on female office association, since you spent so much time there. During your time with that association, what were some of the most significant challenges you faced and how did you overcame them?

Guest: Well, I mean, initially the biggest challenge was I don't come from that kind of family. I didn't really have deep experiences in the family office community. I had some, I had enough to be dangerous, but I was very far from any sort of thought leader or expert. But again, sometimes if you know too much and you overthink it, that causes you to have kind of paralysis by analysis. Because a lot of times in being an entrepreneur, it doesn't really make a lot of sense. If you have options, you have job availability, you have security, you have income. And for a lot of people, that's what they wanted. That's not necessarily what I wanted, although that was tempting. I wanted a sense of freedom, and I wanted a chance to kind of make it, I don't know if I'd quite say on my own, because really, collectively, we're part of a village, from parental upbringing to mentors to people around us. And the old adage is we're kind of a collective to some degree of the five people that we spend the most time around. So in terms of creating family office, I was really. Initially, I was full of gumption. I had an idea what I wanted to do, but. And then I set my date in terms of membership and the first event I was going to host, maybe four to five months out. And then I had no idea what to do. Then I felt a little frozen. So I just called and reached out to a lot of people that were in the family office world. I got a lot of hang up, a lot of not interested. But there were some people that are, like, good for you. Like, you have a lot of gumption, you seem resilient. I'm happy to. I don't know if I quite used the word take me under their wing, but to meet with me, and maybe for a breakfast or lunch, I could pick their brain and learn. So I had the opportunity to do that and to be resilient. I had the opportunity to be introduced to a couple of people that would be very, very valuable for me, getting a fast education. And I had the opportunity to make the right, a higher kind of partnership with a gentleman named Joe Riley, who would become the president of FOA while I was the CEO. And Joe had more experiences way more directly in family offices than I had. But I had a vision that was probably different and could start something from nothing, and hopefully had some level of marketing and salesmanship. So for me, I didn't go into this with any assurances whatsoever. Certain things you could say were lucky. Kind of broke my way with some of the people that I met, but I wouldn't have met them if I didn't take proactive action. And the things that I did that led to me making the right decisions to move forward.

Alex: I imagine you interacted quite a lot over these years with families who successfully preserve wealth across generations. Any common traits or strategies that you observed over the years that these families are using?

Guest: Yes and no. And you're correct. When you've been in the business, the number of years that I have, and you travel the world and you consider yourself a global citizen in kind of the niche world of the family office community. For your audience, I'll define that most traditionally as the single family office community. Primarily that means an entity and talent created by one family of great wealth and the talent internally to that one family, usually non family members, although it may be inclusive and should be to some degree of family members to manage that family's wealth and legacy. So there is no need for rain making or bringing in business. You create a proper entity, you create the structure and processes, you have the right people. And people are always going to be the most important asset, really, in any company. Probably more so within a single family office. And that entity for privacy control and customization is the ultimate for the legacy and wealth of that family. Nothing, nothing could match for the super rich having a single family office. Now, we could argue there's more virtual variations of the virtual single family office now where maybe I don't need to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars and there still could be value in me creating a family office structure. And maybe, or maybe not. We'll have time in terms of getting into that, but I don't want to get too far removed, I suppose you could say, from the essence of your question, lessons learned. So that has led me to meet with, I think at last count, well over 2000 incredible families and their family offices and having consulted to dozens of them. So the answer is kind of yes and kind of no. There are certain things that I could take away that I'm happy to share. What I will say is you were a little generous. You hinted that a family of great wealth, and some may define that as $30 million, USD, $100 million, a couple of hundred million dollars. But before I answer the question, most of your audience is going to be familiar with the Forbes 400, the real time Forbes 400, number 400, the last person on the list. So in theory, it's not technically accurate, but in theory, the 400th wealthiest person in the world. A question that I sometimes ask is, how much is that person worth? And most people would assume a billionaire. And they're correct. And if it was seven or eight years ago, it might have been barely over a billion to make. Number, quote unquote, 400. Now, number 400 in real time on the Forbes, which underestimates the reality which we could get into around the world. It's closer to about seven and a half to $8 billion. It's an incredibly large number. Now, we could argue there's been a bifurcation of the super, super rich and all others. There's a lack of a middle class. There's challenges that could be more societal and geopolitical and happy to get into those subjects. Those are subjects that I do enjoy, and they are challenging and are issues that need to be addressed. But now to your question, most families of great wealth, their wealth often dissipates by the third generation. So even though they're incredibly wealthy, maybe it's poor investment choices that's a part of it over time. Not mitigating taxes or estate taxes, of course, that's a part of it as well. But the bigger parts relate to more internally and dynamically with the family, what some may call family governance. So the decisions, or how families jointly, collaboratively, if they do make decisions. So the opportunity of keeping the family together, of rowing together, of being on the same page, all these metaphors are incredibly important. Now, I don't want to bog the conversation down into a family governance discussion unless you wanted to. So happy to go down that road a little further, but I wanted to strongly note that most families will kind of fail at the question that you said. That may be implied, that it's just going to continue on forever. It's not. And it's incredibly rare actually that it does. So understanding what the families that are doing right. There's a couple of lessons that I learned. One, they have excellent communication. They're willing to be active listeners, and they're not willing to, they're willing to listen to the rising generation. There's different dynamics between the generations. Both sides need to listen to sometimes to acquiesce. The young ones need to be respectful of the elders and their experiences and their know how. And the elders need to realize that times are changing. And how things might have worked perfectly a year or ten or 30 years ago is not necessarily how it's going to work moving forward in today's world. Look at the challenges we're having globally. Look at the issues of the rise of AI. Look at the rise of things like bitcoin and crypto. There's new dynamics that are taking place that the younger generation could provide a lot of insight. A lot of you mentioned what your focus on technology in VC, and these are things that are changing rapidly. And if a family is older and the family office executives are a little bit more behind the times. That's also a reason why most family offices don't make it even up to 15 years. They fail. So the reality is, in everything that we just said, most families kind of fail. That's the reason why my membership club is called SFO, which stands for single family office continuity. Because continuity is deeper than legacy. It's more than just simply we're passing down our wealth with great estate planning and tax structures. That's a part of it. Continuity means we're passing our heritage, our legacy. We have a bloodline. Think of us as homo sapiens that go back, what, 200,000 plus years. And to be respective of those that came before us, the trials and tribulations that they went through, the opportunity of reaching it to the top, to the pinnacle. And wanting to preserve the continuity in the family generationally means understanding, investing, taxes, governance, but really decision making within the family, developing things that we don't talk enough about, like courage within the rising generation. And courage is taking action not just in the face of a challenge, but where there's also a risk involved. If there's no risk, it's not courageous. So you're probably not hearing that word too often in the family office circles, but you'll hear it from me, because these are things, as I travel the world that I see, and when I see rising generations that are successful. I also notice in my travels and meeting iconic families in Europe that go back 500 to 1000 years. So they've succeeded not just certain assets like land, art, gold and gems that they happen to own and where they structure it, let's say, sometimes the mountains of Switzerland or other locations around the world, they also. It's deeper with them. It's making the right decisions within the family, including things like spouses and married in, and children. A lot of the younger people are not even having children, or the same, not the same volume or level that they might have had a generation or two ago. So the family units are often getting smaller. So there's a whole bunch of dynamics that go into your question. But even the multibillion dollar families, to some degree, after a couple of generations, they're kind of failing at that, too.

Alex: Wow, that's mind blowing. I mean, I didn't even know how far away I'm from reality in feminine office concepts. In my mind, it's always, like you said, european family that just goes hundreds of years of generations, preserving the wealth. That's what I thought. And that leads to another question that I have, like the concept of family office. How old is it and how is it evolving over years with new technology, new regulations, politics, global issues, we're experiencing.

Guest: Of course, I can make the argument that technically, the concept of a single family office kind of building entity and people 24/7 dedicated to that one family that goes back thousands of years, I could argue the roman empire. I could make a point for certainly the great empires in China and India in terms of a little bit more quasi modern. Let's only go back a couple of hundred years. I could probably make a strong point for the Medicis in Italy and then heading into the, certainly the great period within the Netherlands and the growth of Europe and Spain and families of great wealth. And they may not have called it the verbiage that we call now as a family office. And of course, Americans think the world only revolves around America, so they're going to look at it as being with the Rockefellers. That would go back to the mid 18 hundreds. They hired a gentleman to run their family office, called, if I have it correctly, I'm going to test my memory. Frederick Gates, who was actually kind of a minister, he was a religious gentleman, but he knew how to communicate, he knew how to bring the family together, and he basically knew a process for how to get things done. And he was an iconic person in the community. Now, yes, you're correct. You asked the right person, because I do fashion myself to be a historian of the single family office community. And one of my things that I love to do is my research. And having known those thousands of families, and some of them personally, where not just going there and coldly asking a couple of questions, but getting to know them as a person, breaking bread with them, drinking wine with them, I do have a thing for cigars. They're a little out of my reach, but smoking cigars with them, some of them were kind enough to invite me to their vacation homes, to sleep in their home, to go on their boats, I've been very, very fortunate. And what I've learned from my perspective is don't treat them, you know, like, oh, you're saintly, just because you're a billionaire. They're like you and I in many ways. And they want to be treated where you're actually honest with them. And sometimes like, hey, that idea you had, it's actually kind of stupid. They appreciate your ability because you're not kissing their ass, that you're looking to be, quote unquote, honest with them. In terms of the other issues that you mentioned, I will have a couple of statistics relative to what you said. Most family offices have actually been created globally since the turn of the century. So about 24 years, the year 2002. Thirds of those, two thirds that have been created broadly in the family office community since 2000, but two thirds of those have been created in the last five years, since 20 1519. So the single family office community specifically has exploded as at the very top. Wealth has grown through a combination of global impactful environments, technologies, banking. There's a whole bunch of reasons why greater liquidity artificially suppressed rates that led to a strong economic period globally for the last couple of decades. So there's a variety of factors. Now, are a lot of these family offices really good? I'm going to argue they're well meaning and I think they could be much better. So I think there's definitely, quote unquote, room for improvement. Too many family offices are siloed, they're independent. They don't really have best practices of the best of the best. And they would benefit. Now, admittedly, a little self serving. That's my experiences and my competency in the industry allows me to travel the world. No families. Not just in researching and organizing a membership organization and organizing a dinner where we could smoke cigars after, but consulting and working with them. I've been inside multiple Forbes 20 families where in two cases, the family offices are above 100 billion USD. And there's lots of lessons to learn and certain lessons they could learn as well. Again, it comes down to competency. Identifying your blind spots. We all have them. And moving ego aside, we need to be a lifelong learner. I think most family offices need to realize more, and I don't mean to sound negative, but that most people around them, and really most people around us, they might, I use that word a little loosely, might be well meaning. But most of them are useless. They don't really provide any true value, if anything, whether purposeful or not. They might even confuse us. They may make it harder. So you want to be around people that are incredibly competent, that are at the top level of what they do because they're competent, aka they're smart, they put in the work, they're disciplined. But they also have the right. Again, I go back to that word, courageous. Morals, character. They have a strength of fiber that bring us all up, that we could learn from. And these are the very important thing for families and within families. You're also correct. Regulatory environments which are not too bad here in the United States. But I could think back to 2011, Dodd Frank and the SFO exemption, I could think back to lender versus the IR's. That's a, a case in the US where it showed the kind of structure to set up legally in a single family office that could be more likely to be tax beneficial to the family. And some of those principles and everything I just said do apply globally, although it's going to be different, of course, in each nation with different tax and other regulatory guidelines. But if the broad question that I'll ask as your follow up to myself is, has it gotten more complicated? Even with the advent of technologies and AI, which we'll probably get to shortly, the answer is yes, it's gotten more complicated geopolitically. Look at the challenges we have here in the US now. Look at the issues, including a massive deficit. Look at the issues going on with multiple wars around the world and potentially the lack of our freedoms being more and more taken away from us. So there's lots of things that could go wrong. If I want to use european history, I could look back to the english reformation, I could look back to the french revolution, the russian revolution in Nazi Germany, and I could ask the question, what happened to a lot of the super rich? A lot of them were eliminated. I'm not going to say all of them. A lot of them. What do I mean by eliminated? Well, that could mean new regimes came into place and took their land and took their money, or simply they were killed. Or maybe they just had everything around them was squeezed off and maybe it took decades, but inevitably they kind of faded away and died. So there's no assurance that just because you're successful or have resources today that it's going to stay that way tomorrow. In theory, a family office looks around corners, is a little bit of a futuristic, has an opportunity to really be dedicated to that word. I said earlier, continuity in the family, which is way deeper than just simply legacy or passing on wealth. That's way too simplistic and there's lots that could go wrong there.

Alex: Before I go to technology aspect because I'm so curious about the technology side, but so SFO continuity and family office masterclasses. This is your current venture, right? How do you tailor the services to meet the needs of these families that evolving and they become richer over the years? They facing more challenges that we just talked about. What kind of services you offer to them in your current venture?

Guest: Sure. And again, I don't really, I want to be educational to your audience. I don't want to make it about me to help your audience, which is newer to me, I started by giving some context to my background, so that could help to frame our discussion and hopefully make it more interactive and have it make more sense for your audience. But I definitely don't want to make it simply about me. But I do love to teach. So I said earlier that the single family office, and broadly the family office industry, is kind of opaque. People don't really know about it. So related to your question, as it builds up in terms of the answer is how many single family offices are there? Because I just said two thirds have been created since 2002. Thirds of that. Two thirds really, in the last five years. The reality is no one has an exact number, but it's deemed to be that it might have been five to 7000, 1520 years ago. It's probably closer to twelve to 14,000, if not even a little more now. So the industry is growing. How many collective assets would that mean on a true family office? There's different numbers. I can make a hell of an argument for probably 10 trillion plus. It's a big number. So yes, family offices are impactful. They do impact the world. You could argue negative and positive, but hopefully more positive. A lot of families employ a lot of people and they give back to their communities in philanthropy. So they do quote, unquote, really, really good things. And what's the opposite? Do we think that governments make great decisions with money and our tax dollars? They usually do a terrible job. So I don't know if there is one great solution, but I know redistributing the wealth to the government, to me. And maybe I'm wearing my american libertarian freedom, my flag waving on my sleeve a little bit. But I think that we make better decisions as individuals as opposed to too many regulatory and government controls. But yes, of course we need to be in check and quote, unquote, do the right thing, preferably on our own accord, and providing value back to our community, society, and globally. And this goes a little bit back to the importance of character. So when the super rich are raising their children, the number one thing that they could really impart is a sense of moral obligation and character. They want their kids to make the right decisions and do the right things. And to do that, you can't outsource that to someone. You as a parent or as a, collectively as a family or grandparent, need to be involved enforcing good behavior and punishing bad behavior. Discipline like in today's world, I guess we just don't talk about that enough. But nonetheless, in terms of, that was partially kind of an answer to your question. So I teach because there's not much out there on single family offices about how to make them great. Which is why one of my masterclasses is titled how to create or reimagine into a top 1% family office that's 24/7 available from my website as a digital download. Of course, it's not free, but it's nominal in terms of what I charge for it. Then I would say about a third of those families will reach out to me and look to consider how I could customize something more specifically and work with them on more of a consultative relationship. SFO continuity is my private club that is more dedicated to sharing connections with me, my best practices, my intellectual work that I output on what makes the family office great from my travels, my competency, and my experiences, and then bringing together those member families around the world, including in Europe, including in Asia, in Africa, technically in North America, and coming together face to face. Zoom is great. Streamyard, all these digital platforms, they're awesome. I love them, too. But nothing, nothing beats face to face interaction. Eating food together, drinking together, even if it's water, and on alcohol, smoking cigars together, getting to know one another and providing value. So I shepherd that. I foster that. I encourage that through my experiences and building a private community. I think most of the family office community of events and organizations are poor. They're not good. And it's an opportunity for me to build something that is smaller, more intimate, and provides true value, I think is.

Alex: Something that's important and that's purely for family members. That's not for family office professionals.

Guest: Oh, yes, it is. It's for both.

Alex: Correct. Interesting.

Guest: It's for the family members, including rising generation, as well as the executive inside a single family office. Correct.

Alex: Interesting.

Guest: And I have done some consulting assignments for those in the industry. I've done a project for an accounting firm, a legal firm, hedge funds. Sometimes they bring me in to speak to their group. Sometimes I do an evaluation of what they're doing, and I come in and teach a one, two, or three day. And they could record it kind of in person masterclass. And I customize it relative around what they're looking to do, which could be consultative, it could be more legal or accounting in the community. You know, at the end of the day, there's lots of people, and this applies inside the family office as well. There's lots of people that could crunch numbers. Family offices need to solve problems, and they need to procure positive future outcomes moving forward. That relates to family continuity. And by the way, that's all harder than what it sounds. And if we were doing a deep dive on practice management, you know, we could go three days on that because that's a really, really important subject. So it's not. Not that crunching numbers is not important. The ability to be intellectual, to be smart, to be good in math, part of that is solving problems. So I know there's going to be some very high IQ people out there, I respect you, that are going to be really, really good at math and say, well, that is solving problems. You're not theoretically incorrect. It's a part of it. But learning creativity, so the opposite of creativity is contentment. So there's certain, and I would be wary of ideas that we inherit, and we all inherit ideas from our parents, from our teachers, from our mentors, that all may be well meaning and good lessons taught, but at the end of the day, the best lesson we could learn is how to think for ourselves. And part of that involves first principles thinking, which Elon Musk has spoken about and other prominent people. How do you take a problem and bring it down to its bare essence? How do you dissect it? And then how do you look to come up with solutions that may be based historical on what has happened in the past and understanding history, but also learning how to be a little bit more a futurist, of seeing around the corners. It's helpful to have input from others, but at the end of the day, people need to make decisions. So understanding critical thinking, processing information and making decisions, some of that is inherent to our internal intelligence. That's true, but part of that is a process that can be learned and we could get better at it.

Alex: Let's move on to the technology aspect. I'm in the technology space, been doing lots of development work for hedge funds, so I'm quite familiar with the domain, but I have zero visibility of what's happening in family offices, especially the advancement of AI digital transformations. From your experience, what are the ways these technologies help improve, facilitate operations and capabilities of family offices?

Guest: It's gotten much, much better since COVID but we all know that that kind of spurred a little bit of a technological revolution. You also have the advent of greater computing, horsepower of chips. There's a bunch of dynamics that kind of came together to make now somewhat, I guess you could say, a renaissance from a technological perspective. Most family offices are a little older and a little antiquated, and they need to get better, and they could. So these are very, very important. Like I said earlier, the three big factors to me, by far, are people, number one, processes, which include systems number two and technology. I could argue number three. But now that AI is getting so much better, maybe that moves up to number two. I don't want to scare the audience, but there might be a point, I don't know, ten years, 30 years, 78 years, when maybe AI and technology is number one because it reaches singularity and there's advantages that it brings to the table now that brings lots of potential societal issues that we won't get too negative going down today. But on the topic of AI, I'll leave your audience with a couple of different things and then I'll dive more specifically into actual certain solutions. In the family office world, you absolutely have to understand AI, it is changing rapidly. It will never be weaker than this very second that you happen to be hearing or watching this interview. It's getting better every second, not in one or ten year increments. It is exponential as that's growing. The acting, well, the CEO of Google, one of the largest companies on earth, Sundar, stated he thinks it will be more impactful than fire and electricity. And I believe it was elon that stated it may be 800 x, not 800%, 800 times more powerful in two years than it is right now. So there's going to be lots of opportunity for entrepreneurs, for existing family offices, from internal operations to investing opportunity for the rising generation. That's going to be more, it's going to be more intuitive, if that's the right word, their comfort around technology and how dynamics are changing. And this is, again, where elders and the rising generation need to be collaborative as opposed to being separate and working independently. And they're both to blame for that. So there's lots of things that could be improved, but technology now, broadly speaking, and parts of it are enacting more and more AI are very important. So there's programs that help families with estate planning, at least in the US, companies like vanilla. There's programs that organize a sense of structure in the family, like leave planner. There's household management programs like nine. Aggregation and reporting of investment assets is very, very important. I want to know what I own, I want to know what its value is at least believed to be as best at the current moment, what my tax obligation would be in terms of did we buy this share and when did we hold it long enough or if we sell it, it's a long term capital gain. Making decisions in the dark, including on mitigating risk, is very, very hard if you don't have the right information at your fingertips. So there's programs like Addepar, like Eaton, like SS and C, like Citco, like fun count, PCR, coalition, AI rocket solutions is definitely up and coming. Asset vantage and others. The more that enter the space, the more that incorporate higher level technology and AI, the more competitive it gets, the more opportunities it's for families to get the right or family office, the right program for them. And broadly speaking, it's driving pricing down as competition does as well. Because I'm a big advocate of practice management, it's important to know what your employees are doing, where, if they're assigned a goal, what did they accomplish today or this week? And is that being tracked and monitored? Not to be overly top down and heavy handed, but we have a job to do. We're being paid, and it's up to the c level executive, the family, the chairman, the president, whatever you want to call it, or collectively to be held and accountable. And for those below them that have specific tasks, so the opportunity of using task management or some called project management software and having them input every day, so we know progress on a specific goal. So technology is very, very important. We know about chat, GPT, we know that's getting exponentially way, way more powerful. And these are all putting additional fingertips or additional horsepower, additional resources at the fingertips of the family and the family office, but only that's only going to work if they know how to use it. So it's important that they integrate technology, that they understand AI. And one of the masterclasses I'll be outputting earlier this or later this year, that will probably be about a four to five hour program, is going to be on family office technologies and AI, because it's one of the most common requests that I get inquiries that I get from members and kind of consultative requests, or at least often built in, that's important for the success of the family office.

Alex: Well, the question is where all of this is going. Like, let's look in the future, I don't know, ten years from now, what kind of trends do you see as main influencers that will shape the industry, shape the whole phenomena of single family office?

Guest: I mean, ten years from now, we don't even exactly know what the world.

Alex: That's a long span.

Guest: We are going through wars now that have potential to escalate potentially, potentially to get nuclear. What happens in the world as we know it? I think it was one of our generals here in the US, it might have been, who would become our president. Dwight Eisenhower. He was asked, what will World War three look like? And he said, I don't know. But I do know that world War four will be sticks and stones, meaning World War three. Truly, world War three could be so devastating, it could effectively wipe out life to a degree as we know it. And then we're starting again like it was thousands of years ago, from scratch, is what he meant. So we have a lot of issues geopolitically in society. We have a lot of bifurcation among elders and Gen Z and rising generation around political parties, around countries, nations. We have a lot of problems, and they need to be addressed. And these are bigger picture issues than me, you know, pontificating as an amateur here in something like a podcast, but in terms of from the family office side, that does relate. I'm going to go back to it again. There's a reason why I called it SFO continuity, because it means more than legacy. It means carrying on a dynastic approach to the family, generation after generation. I would be wary of big governance. I would be wary even to some degree, of big tech, even though, again, we're talking about technology and AI. When I meet with the Hobsburgs in Europe and all these older families in Switzerland, in Germany, in the UK, in Austria, when I travel there, and even in the Middle east, they still talk about things like land, like art, like gems, like gold. And maybe in today's world, I'll add in bitcoin. So the world is changing. Maybe you want to have more assets. What's less counterparty risk? Maybe there's things that could go wrong in public securities and banking. Maybe there's government debts that could collapse. We have grave, grave challenges, and a family office must always be abreast on the issues of mitigating risk, yet also seeking opportunity. And sometimes that's a difficult task. But again, building the right board, having the right consultant and people to work with the family and or the family office because they are a little siloed and we all have blind spots and ego and things that get in the way, and we need to work on that. So don't think that we could do it all independently. It's effectively impossible. So the opportunity of being collaborative, of working together, of bringing fresh ideas into the family office, is all going to be important. Assuming we don't have that nuclear Armageddon, what could ten years as well down the road look like? And again, there's issues with younger people having less and less children. So that's going to be an issue relative to legacy and continuity. And often wealthy families have even less children. This goes to another challenge that we're going to have globally, with inevitably in a couple of decades, with a declining population, that sometimes is difficult to turn once that tide gets going, so to speak. So that's going to be very, very important. What I maybe could say about AI that I haven't said already, there may be two kinds of family offices in ten years. Those that are using AI and those that are no longer around. It may be that stark. We'll see. And, okay, maybe ten years is a bit of pressing it a little bit. Maybe it's 20, maybe it's 30 years, maybe it's 19. Maybe I'm totally wrong. But to think that something that could be more impactful, like the CEO of Google said, than fire and water, that you are not really understanding it now, the good and the bad, and potentially looking at opportunity, it's like, to me, that would be a foolish decision. I know there's not enough hours in the day. I know we're all stressed out and busy, and also, we didn't even talk about, which relates to technology and AI, things like cyber security, deepfakes, all these incredible avatars that are being developed that are fooling big companies and people, and a family of great wealth and resources and their family office, you are a sitting target. And often, because your technology and your ability to mitigate those risks are poor. And those of you that think it's okay, it's not. I've been in your family offices before, and I've seen what incredible cybersecurity and security measures and family continuity looks like at the highest. At the highest level, the damages that cyber attack, that deep fakes, that the advent of greater horsepower and AI, and that really smart, bad people could bring upon you, your reputation, your rising generation in your family office. You don't want to know the truth, because it's really, really bad. And these are things that are going to be happening more and more to the super rich that they need to address. And again, their current solutions, for the most part, 95% of the time, at the highest levels of risk that they may face, are absolutely going to collapse and fail.

Alex: Angelo, I'd like to wrap it up with the last question, and that would be a word of advice to someone who is just getting into the domain of family offices. Where should that person start? Because I think I will have many people like that in my audience who are in fintech, but they are curious about family offices. They want to learn more. What would be your advice?

Guest: I mean, it's not always easy because there's not a lot of information, because they don't want a lot of information out there. Of course, in today's world, with Google and chat GPT, there's a little bit, and there's some of my resources. I think my book is a little outdated now. It goes back seven or so years. I probably need to update it. But some parts of it are evergreen. On family decision making, on governance, on leadership, on the branding imperative and all that. So, still valuable. And again, I'm not the only one. There's definitely others who are talented as well, in Europe, in Asia, in North America, and really broadly speaking, around the world. Yes, my master classes and the work that I do could be a value to those. But I would say I kind of hinted at it before as well. You need to be a historian and understand the great philosophers and great thinkers of the past, but also have an opportunity to look forward and be somewhat of a futurist in terms of looking forward. And sometimes things take time and honestly, money. So if you could accelerate your knowledge, that took me 20 years into maybe two or three months, and that does end up costing money, is it worth it? It may not be. I think it was the great philosopher Nishkay that said, good things are costly beyond measure. So, and things are getting more complicated now, the more complicated and complex that our society becomes, in some ways, we become less free, we become a slave, effectively. So imagine you're someone in fintech or legal and accounting, and what? Now you're bogged down by a mortgage, by commitment, by taxes, and there's a risk for you to do new things, to try new things, to go into the family office, quote unquote sector, because, again, it would not be courageous if it didn't involve some level of risk. And are we losing a sense of courageousness? Making up my own word there, as we move forward in today's society versus in the past. And to some degree, I think the answer to that is yes. And who knows what the whole impact of AI and all that that we spoke about a couple of minutes ago is going to have collectively on this. I think it's going to be, some things could be enthralling and exciting, but that depends. It could also be very, very negative. So I started knowing relatively little and a good attitude for me to have now and all of you. And I think I learned this from reading about an old judo master who was a 10th degree black belt. But he said, and I guess I'll say the same, not that I'm comparing myself to the highest level of a 10th degree, but bury me in my white belt. Always have a beginner's mindset. To this day I often put in well, well over an hour a day, including weekend and holidays, into research into reading not just philosophy and great people like Elon Musk and others, but diving into things relative to investing in the family office community and adapting my thinking, learning more about first principles, how to think for myself. So these are all things that are going to be important moving forward because I think it is getting harder and harder in many ways. If the question is more relative to I look to service the community or I have something to offer them and how do I do that? Well, everything I just said applies to you. Enhancing your competency, which effectively is your, I think, both your capacity and your capability, and that makes you more capable of being a value added and servicing people like that. There are some events that could be valuable depending on what your company does that could help to meet some family offices. I think the better become so damn good at what you do that you can't be ignored. That's not to say that you don't. Market marketing is very important in today's world. LinkedIn, social media, who knows? TikTok, those are all things that could be the older group like mine is not doing some of those things. Now let's not get into tick tock. Eventually being banned in the US, maybe that doesn't happen. Maybe it does. But to reach a younger audience, why is no one doing anything relative to making short bites and clips on Instagram reels or TikTok from a younger perspective to the rising generation. So there's always opportunity. You all are probably smarter than me and have an opportunity to be hungry, to work hard, to get up early before you get into oh, I just want to work smart. You have to learn how to work hard before you can then work smart. So it really is a combination of both. Stop trying to find the easy way out. You know, I don't mean to get into a little bit of a lecturing like I do at universities with some of the young ones and others, but there is a saying that stuck with me over the last couple of years and indirectly kind of brings this a little bit together. Weak people think the world is against them. Strong people don't care. I was going to use a swear word. I cleaned it up. Don't care if it is. Don't be a victim. Be someone. Maybe things are against you and you just have to be so damn strong in your character. Your discipline and your ability to push through where it makes you a better person. If everything came easy, and this is one of the problems that super rich families sometimes have, it doesn't create a sense of resilience that could lead to further anti fragility within the family, which comes from capacity and capability at its core, but the ability for first principles thinking, and to adapt and to have a heart, have character inside of you. You're not solely judged by your finances and your success. It really is your impact that you're gonna make on the world. Although admittingly, money is one way that we keep score and money is one way that we could argue gives us a sense of freedoms to be able to be our own boss and to make certain decisions for those of us that are courageous to take that leap and to move forward. I wish I had easy answers and do this and you'll become an expert in the family office world, or you'll meet 30 family offices to get them to be an LP, if that's what your goal is. Nothing, nothing that is that easy. You have to do all the work that leads into that, and even then, nothing is assured.

Alex: Thank you. That's inspiring and straight to the point. And that's the truth of the life from my personal experience as well. Angelo, thank you very much for being the guest. It's been great and I enjoyed a lot of the conversation.

Guest: Well, Alex, you did a great job. I learned so much from your questions. As someone who does interviews myself, and you could, if you go to my website,, comma, my masterclass, my private club, my consultancy, it's all on there. That's i actually even have a family office tv tab that shares some of my latest interviews, which are often a long, long form that I've done. You all could look me up on LinkedIn, subscribe, I'll follow you back. And I have two YouTube platforms, family office and family office tv. I look forward to hearing from your audience. I'm here to be a friend and a resource. And if it means business, then great. You all know how to reach out to me. And again, Alex, I appreciate your time and your great questions. Thank you.

Alex: Thank you. We'll put all the links in the description of the video on YouTube. And for the audience, thank you very much for watching till the end. Don't forget to subscribe and like the video and see you next time.

Guest: Thank you.