DJ Van Keuren |

Reasons why so Many Family Offices have Trouble Maintaining a legacy

7 min read

A family office is a private wealth management firm that provides comprehensive financial and investment services to a single family. While the concept of a family office has been around for centuries, the modern-day incarnation is a relatively new phenomenon.

There are many reasons why so multi-family offices have trouble maintaining a legacy, and this blog post will explore some of the most common factors contributing to this challenge. We hope that by understanding these issues, future generations of family offices will be better equipped to create lasting legacies.

Challenges of Managing a Family Office for Maintaining a Legacy

Managing a family office is no easy task, as the demands are constantly shifting and often complex. Balancing various family investment management and financial strategies must be considered to preserve the building generational wealth and the continued growth of family assets.

This requires a decisive leader who can not only identify potential risks and opportunities but also construct a plan to ride out market fluctuations as well as leverage any available resources to maximize returns while keeping in mind the family’s ultimate goal: maintaining a successful legacy that will be passed down through generations.

Ultimately, single-family offices must consider both short-term and long-term objectives to ensure any costs associated with restructuring or changing strategies prove worthwhile.

Here are some of the main challenges faced by family offices in maintaining a legacy, and what can be done to address them:

1. Balancing multiple investments and financial strategies

Managing a family office requires a careful balancing act between various investments and financial strategies to build generational wealth and ensure the continued growth of financial assets. To accomplish this, a decisive leader must identify potential risks and opportunities and construct a plan to ride out market fluctuations while keeping the family’s ultimate goal in mind.

2. Navigating conflicts between multiple generations of family members

Many family offices are run by multiple generations of family members, which can lead to conflicts and disagreements. To prevent these conflicts from damaging the legacy, family offices must foster clear communication and a shared vision among family members.

3. Preventing corruption and temptation

Family offices often have a significant amount of money, which can create temptation and corruption. To prevent this, family offices must adhere to mandatory compliance standards and promote employee transparency and accountability.

4. Managing a complex structure

The structure of a family office can be complicated, with multiple moving parts and a range of responsibilities. Regular review and analysis of single-family office activities can help ensure that operations run efficiently and that family legacies are secured for generations to come.

5. Navigating complex family dynamics

Family dynamics can be complex, with members constantly changing roles and responsibilities. To address this challenge, family offices must establish a focused mission in managing economic and non-economic networks, opening up opportunities for family members to learn and develop strengths for themselves and their wealthy families.

By addressing these challenges, family offices can create and maintain successful legacies that endure the test of time. With a skilled and experienced team prepared for the challenges ahead, family offices can ensure that their operations run smoothly for years to come.

Managing Multi-Generational Family Offices: Dealing with Conflict and Disagreements

Many family offices are now run by multiple generations of family, which can prove to be a unique challenge as family governance and different family members’ ideologies and interests can quickly run into disagreements and create a wealth gap among members.

Despite this additional layer of complexity, family offices offer the opportunity for continuity and protection of generational wealth and family legacies. This hurdle is just one more step for family offices to navigate.

However, the potential outcomes are splendid with diligent planning and clear decision-making. Leveraging existing family relationships makes it possible for family office owners to work jointly toward common goals, carrying on their family history and financial accomplishments in a secure environment.

Lots of Money in Family Offices can create Temptation and Corruption.

Family offices exist to protect family fortunes and pass wealth on to future generations. With such significant financial responsibility – often greatly exceeding the resources of an average family – family offices must also defend against the potential for both temptation and corruption.

Despite their wealth, family offices are subject to the same risks as any other entity should they fail to adhere to mandatory compliance standards or properly monitor individuals in a position of power within their organization.

To preserve generational wealth and legacy, family offices should emphasize rigorous accounting procedures by a certified public accountant.

Understanding the Complex Structure of Family Offices for Effective Management

Family offices can be structured in various ways, and the management of such a complex structure can be overwhelming. To ensure the longevity of family legacies, it is crucial to have a comprehensive understanding of the various structures in place.

Regular Review and Analysis

Regular review and analysis of family office activities can help provide a clearer understanding of the day-to-day operations. This analysis can also help identify potential risks and opportunities that can affect the family’s long-term financial objectives.

Effective Tax Strategies

Understanding the best tax strategies can help mitigate tax liabilities and provide more money to reinvest in the family’s assets. Experienced advisors can help families identify tax-saving opportunities while staying compliant with tax laws.

Leveraging Family Values

Family values are an essential part of a successful multi family office structure. Values such as transparency, trust, and communication help create a stable environment for family members, no matter the economic outlook. By aligning family values with financial strategies, family offices can ensure that the family legacy is maintained and passed down through generations.

In summary, understanding the complex structure of family offices, regular review and analysis, effective tax strategies, and leveraging family values are crucial elements in effective family office management. By prioritizing these aspects, families can ensure the longevity of their legacies and create stability for future generations.

Family dynamics can be difficult, with members constantly changing roles and responsibilities.

Family dynamics can be complex, changing from family to family and often transforming over time. As family members rise through the ranks of their chosen fields, generationally-sourced wealth can fuel the growth of family offices.

What may have started as a simple family unit then grows into an office that provides assets management, estate planning, and venture capital investments, among many other things, all within one family firm.

Through this, legacy assets have the potential to grow in a way that benefits every member in multiple ways – such as income or job opportunities – while at the same time establishing a tradition of family values that deeper family dynamics can develop.

Taking advantage of these interconnected family resources allows for a focused mission in managing economic and non-economic networks, opening up opportunities for family members to learn and develop strengths for themselves and their families.

Managing a family office can be an incredibly difficult job. It requires careful consideration of family dynamics, complex organization, and prevention of conflicts and corruption. These difficulties must be acknowledged and appropriately dealt with to create and maintain a successful family office that can last for generations.

An experienced team prepared for the challenges ahead is essential for any family office that hopes to endure the test of time and create a lasting legacy. Taking the necessary precautions now will ensure that the office operates smoothly for years to come.


Family offices are a great way for families to manage their generational wealth and ensure that it is preserved for future generations.

By taking the right precautions and assembling an experienced team, family offices can become efficient, secure entities that will stand the test of time and form a legacy for decades to come. With careful planning and dedication, family offices can be the cornerstone of a family business.

DJ Van Keuren​

Named as one of Family Capitals Top 10 U.S. Family Office Real Estate Professionals, one of Trusted Insight's Top 30 Real Estate Investors at a Family Office, and founder of the Family Office Real Estate Institute, Mr. Van Keuren is the Co-Managing Member for Evergreen Property Partners. D.J. has held senior management positions in real estate at several prominent single-family offices. Among them are The Hayman Family (Giorgio Perfume/Giorgio Beverly Hills & Discuss Dental), the Arsenault Family office (Mountain High Yogurt), and acting as the President of real estate for a family member of an owner of an MLB team. Mr Van Keuren is a member of the Forbes Real Estate Council, a frequent writer for Forbes on family office real estate investing, author of "Real Estate Investing for Family Offices," founder of The Family Office Real Estate Insitute, President of the Harvard Real Estate Alumni Organization, and a frequent speaker at family office conferences around the world. In addition, DJ was a Family Wealth Alliance finalist for its Best In Industry Awards for Thought Leadership and Special Industry Contributions awards. He has been published in Forbes, Family Office Elite, Real Asset Advisor, National Real Estate Investor, and Private Wealth and mentioned in The New York Times, PERE, National Real Estate Investor, and Trusted Insight, among others. Mr Van Keuren is a current Advisory Board member for RedSwan CRE, Advisor to Keiretsu Family Office, a member of the GP Advisory Committee to Gated Rentals and a past Stanford Global Family Office Committee member, editorial board member for Real Asset Advisor Magazine, a prior Board Member for the Real Estate Academic Initiative at Harvard. D.J. received his Master's Degree from Harvard University in Management and Finance, attended graduate studies in Real Estate from the NYU Schack Real Estate Institute, and received his B.A. from Ball State University as part of the universities Div IA baseball team.