Thought PiecesMay 1 2020

The benefits of being part of a global association in the middle of a global crisis

4 mins read

Written by A Wigmore Association Collaboration

Collaborative global associations and organisations provide multiple benefits to the member firms and, in turn, to the clients they serve. These benefits include providing a worldwide network and support, setting high quality standards, learning from the mistakes and successes of others, improving staff retention and recruitment, and ensuring effective collaborative responses to world events. 

The current global pandemic highlights the advantages of a global collaboration of family offices, such as the Wigmore Association, for families of wealth.  In this article, we offer responses from the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) and Chief Investment Officers (CIOs) across the eight Wigmore member firms to the question: ‘What is the benefit of being part of a global association in the middle of a global crisis?’

According to Tom McCullough, Chairman of the Wigmore Association, and Chairman and CEO of Northwood Family Office, based in Toronto, “When we founded the Wigmore Association (on Wigmore Street in London) in 2011, we never could have imagined the circumstances that we find ourselves in today. With that said, the COVID-19 crisis has made each of us more aware than ever of the benefits of a global association of family offices and how it can help our client families thrive, even in difficult times.”

“It can seem counter-intuitive, but crises present amazing opportunities to grow and learn,” added James Fleming CEO of London-based Sandaire Family Office added “Working with a global association with eight members firms brings those opportunities alive. It has also been immensely helpful to hear how similar family offices around the world are dealing with the current environment – including investment intelligence, client communication strategies, creative uses of technology, the impact of shutting down physical offices, and implementing work-from-home policies.”

Throughout the crisis, the Chief Executives and Chief Investment Officers of the member firms have been on weekly video conferences to share ideas and discuss best practices for coping with these unprecedented challenges and supporting the families that they look after to the best of their ability. 

 “These calls have been interesting.”  McCullough noted, We hear about each country’s reaction to the crisis, and can review the different ways governments and businesses around the world are fighting the virus and its effects.” 

Leslie Voth, CEO of U.S. based Pitcairn, said, “Collectively, members of Wigmore represent a wide range of experience in leading our clients through different life events and crises. As a result, the shared wisdom from this trusted, global network will ultimately benefit our clients as they navigate today’s new normal.”

“We are certainly living through extraordinary times, as each day we hear about the financial and business challenges around the globe and in our communities. Yet as we are all highly aware, we are also facing a very human challenge. Our ability to quickly connect with our peers in different countries allows us to understand how this pandemic is affecting our businesses and clients, both financially and emotionally.” 

Voth also agreed with McCullough’s comments on the benefits of the weekly calls. “Each week, we take each other’s temperature and conduct a quick ‘around the world’ check-in. We ask, “Is this week better or worse than last week?””

 “I can read reports and access information from various investment sources, but there is a different level of value and a deep sense of trust from Wigmore’s ‘boots on the ground’ intelligence.” Added Pitcairn’s CIO, Rick Pitcairn. “Connectivity is at a premium when a crisis is felt globally. It allows you to gather stronger insight based on the markets, economies, and political experiences in each country.”

In Germany, HQ Trust executives. Christian Stadtmüller and Marcel Müller agree. “The benefit of a global organization in the middle of a global crisis is the regular exchange of relevant local perspectives and opinions on the latest capital markets and political developments. Wigmore also offers the ability to discuss the most important concerns of clients and how families around the globe are coping with this unprecedented situation, as well as what preparations or decisions are being made to support them through this time.” 

Sandaire’s CIO StJohn Gardner echoed the benefits of what can be achieved by working together to support families. “The ability to connect with other Wigmore investment professionals in countries all across the world and truly ‘local’ intelligence  is truly invaluable. We have access to an amazing collection of thoughts and ideas on capital markets, asset allocation and other drivers of asset returns from a network of experienced CIOs and research analysts.” 

“Having the minds of non-competing, collegial, CEOs and CIOs, each with different backgrounds and long experiences in markets, brought together for a common purpose – looking after the wealth of their families in the face of a crisis – is a priceless tool and enables remarkable global coverage of the crisis.” 

It is clear that being a part of a global association, such as the Wigmore Association, during a global crisis such as the one that we are facing now offers increased collaboration, whether to raise creativity, resolve a problem or help achieve a family goal , learn best practices from one another, share market insights, knowledge and benchmarking, or simply promote the health and wellbeing of the firms and the families that each individual firm looks after. 

Everyone hopes that this crisis will soon pass and that the world will return to ‘normal’ – or, perhaps more realistically, ‘the new normal’. But, whatever the timing and outcome, it is evident that this crisis has provided one more opportunity for the Wigmore member firms to work together, support each other and their client families, and emerge as an even stronger association. 

Wigmore’s response to the crisis demonstrates the benefits of collaboration among independent firms who share the same objective – “working together globally to help their families thrive.”