The concept of family offices can be traced back to the 6th century when the noble families relied on major-domos to oversee their wealth and affairs. These skilled individuals acted as family managers, making arrangements, and representing the noble household. Fast forward to the 19th century, the modern concept of family offices began to take shape. In 1838, the House of Morgan was established by J.P. Morgan’s family, serving as their dedicated asset manager. Similarly, the Rockefellers founded their own family office in 1882, which remains operational today.

Over the past 30 years, family offices have emerged as independent entities. As families amassed greater wealth through business successes and investments, their affairs became increasingly complex and necessitated dedicated management. What used to be easily manageable for a nuclear family with modest wealth evolved into a full-time responsibility as subsequent generations and substantial non-business assets came into play. In such cases, families sought the assistance of trusted advisors, often their lawyers, accountants, bankers, or investment managers. These advisors took charge of coordinating and managing various aspects of their family and financial lives, including investments, trusts, tax planning, family education, wealth transition, and financial administration. As the workload grew, additional staff was brought on board to support the family advisor, thus giving rise to the formation of family offices.

Quantifying the precise number of family offices proves challenging. According to a KPMG Global Family report[1], it is estimated that there are 7,500 family offices worldwide. However, the definition and exact count of single-family offices remain unknown, although it is believed to be around 7,500 to 10,000 globally, with a significant increase since 2008. These offices oversee an impressive $6 trillion in assets under management (EY, Campden) [2]. On the other hand, the number of multi-family offices is relatively smaller. When considering North American firms that have $1 billion in assets under management, serve a substantial client base with $30+ million, and offer a comprehensive suite of services, the total count falls below 150 (J.E. McLaughlin).

This overview aims to shed light on the questions surrounding family offices, as they have become increasingly prevalent in recent times. Should you desire more information about the Wigmore Association, please feel free to contact us.

[1] The 2023 Global Family Office Benchmark Report (, sourced 16 November 2023

[2] sourced 16 November 2023