How to join a family office in Singapore

By Robert Half on 21 January 2024
Estimated Read Time: 8 minutes

It can’t be ignored that Singapore has seen a sizeable increase in wealthy individuals and families over the past few years. According to the UBS & Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report 2023, Singapore is the eighth richest country in the world.

Ultra-high-net-worth individuals and families aren’t devoid of worries and questions when it comes to money. In fact, many are unsure how to invest their wealth wisely, and how to preserve and grow it to leave a lasting legacy for generations to come.

Enter the family office – a bespoke, multi-generational fund management vehicle, covering the holistic realm of financial affairs. From budgeting to family governance, real estate to risk management, the family office goes beyond mere management of a family’s wealth.

With Singapore’s reputation for prosperity and stability, the family office vehicle is undergoing significant growth. For candidates in the region, joining a Singapore family office presents a unique and rewarding opportunity for finance professionals looking to make a significant impact in the world of wealth management.

If you’re curious about pursuing a career in a family office setting in Singapore, stay tuned!

Join us as we explore how to join a family office – from all the important insights to the actionable steps for cementing a career in this burgeoning field.

The Singapore family office landscape

Some predict that by 2025, financial wealth in Asia (excluding Japan) could outstrip the US. Arguably one of the most prominent hubs for wealth management and financial services, Singapore has captured the attention of high-net-worth individuals seeking sophisticated and personalised financial solutions.

It comes as no surprise that the family office ecosystem in Singapore has witnessed remarkable growth in recent years.

According to the Monetary Authority of Singapore, the state had just 400 family offices in 2020. By the end of 2022, this number had risen to roughly 1100, with a backlog of over 200 new applications in March 2023.

The dynamic ecosystem is filled with global players and local entities which only add to the region’s vibrancy and growth. From renowned institutions like DBS Bank and UBS, to independent multi-family offices like Crestbridge and Portcullis Group, families have a range of professional options when it comes to navigating the complexities of wealth preservation and succession planning.

Singapore’s allure for family offices can be attributed to numerous factors, namely its:

  • Transparent and stable regulatory environment.
  • Solid financial infrastructure.
  • Strategic position as a gateway to the Asia-Pacific region.
  • Vibrant family office community.
  • Reputation for safety and security.
  • Low corporate tax rate.

As Singapore continues to establish a foothold as a prominent global hub for family offices, skilled wealth management candidates are left wondering how to join a family office. With the right skills, qualifications and expertise, these professionals have a unique opportunity to secure some of the most lucrative finance jobs on offer.

Qualifications and skills

There’s no doubt that family office jobs are an attractive proposition. With trillions of investment dollars on the table and reports of whopping salaries, it’s easy to see why professionals are wondering how to join a family office.

With 40% of family offices planning to hire this year, it’s certainly a career worth considering. So, how do you get there?

While there isn't a specific mandatory educational or certification requirement for working in a family office, candidates with the following qualifications are often viewed favourably:

  1. Bachelor's Degree in Finance, Business, or a Related Field
  2. Advanced Degrees (MBA, Master's in Finance)
  3. Professional Certifications including:
  • Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
  • Certified Financial Planner (CFP)
  • Certified Private Wealth Professional (CPWP)

It’s important to take note of specialised roles which call for additional qualifications or certifications. For example, estate planning roles will require certain legal qualifications.

Furthermore, it’s important for family office professionals to practice continuous professional development. Family offices generally appreciate this commitment to professional development as it ensures that the individual is keeping up with industry trends and important regulatory changes.

While many have been captivated by the allure of family office, few possess the unique skillset required by this notoriously selective industry.

Andrea Wong, Managing Director at Robert Half Singapore, says this line of work isn’t as simple as being good at finance. “Of course, candidates must possess a strong foundation when it comes to education and professional qualifications. They certainly help to enhance your credibility and demonstrate your commitment to the field. That said, family offices are much more interested in a candidate’s diverse skill set and their keen understanding of the intricacies of wealth preservation and growth.”

It's important to remember that the family office landscape in Singapore is diverse, so to, are the size, focus and structure of each one. Developing a specialised skill set in areas such as tax planning, estate management, and investments, will help to enhance your marketability.

Andrea says that being a valuable asset comes down to more than just your technical skills. She says, “in an industry that demands discretion, trust, and secrecy, soft skills are what gets attention. Technical skills can be outsourced – soft skills are what will earn you a pay rise. Remember, you are getting an insider look at a family’s inner workings – their wealth, their investment, and their relationships. The most successful candidates I’ve seen, have a strong ability to remain composed, professional and committed, while balancing unconventional criteria. It’s not uncommon for family office executives to be working beyond finance – think managing security detail, organising international travel, mediating disputes, and even getting cups of coffee. It’s certainly not a role suited to just anyone!”

The importance of networking

If you’re wondering how to join a family office in Singapore, take the time to do your preliminary research. Get to know the landscape – the key players, their unique characteristics, and the strategic networking opportunities that can put you in front of them.

Like any finance-based role, networking plays a critical role in accessing the family office industry and building a professional network. It’s important to remember that discretion is often paramount in the family office sector, so networking and building relationships are critical components of the job search process. So, be proactive and get involved!

Andrea believes networking is non-negotiable. “Some of the most successful candidates are those that have built meaningful relationships off the back of networking. It’s easy to avoid things like industry events but, it’s amazing what doors they can open. There are so many insights and opportunities to be gleaned so, take the time to attend industry events, join professional organisations and leverage online networking platforms. You won’t be sorry you did.”

Job Search Strategies

In conjunction with networking, it’s important to adopt other job search strategies in your quest to join a family office. These roles aren’t typically shared on general job portals so, you need to be aware of the specific platforms and resources that cater to family office positions.

Increase your chances of success by:

Engaging recruitment agencies – Here at Robert Half, we pride ourselves on our extensive professional networks in the finance and wealth management space. By leveraging our service, we can match your skills with the most suitable family office opportunities to streamline the job search process.

Consider us your guide on your jobseeker journey. We can help you to improve your resume, prepare for interviews, and share networking avenues, to maximise your chances of landing your dream family office role.

Be sure to visit our jobseeker page to view and apply for unique job vacancies in Singapore.

Utilising online job portals – make an effort to regularly check portals and websites that focus on finance and wealth management positions in Singapore.

Maintaining an online presence – platforms like LinkedIn could be your ticket to a family office role. With a strong profile, you can maintain a positive online presence, showcase your expertise, engage with relevant content, and build visibility within the industry. With many job opportunities posted on these platforms, it’s critical to join professional networks and establish connections that could very well lead to job referrals.

Resume and cover letter tips

It’s been said that employers spend about 30 seconds on a resume before they decide whether to shortlist the candidate.

In the case of the niche sector that is Singapore family office, your resume and cover letter are critical in shining a light on your unique skills and suitability.

This industry demands nothing short of polished, targeted, and compelling documentation.

Crafting a resume that gets attention certainly takes time, but it also pays dividends. When it comes to standing out from the crowd with a powerful resume and cover letter, there are some important factors to keep in mind:

  1. Customisation is key – align each document with the specific needs of family offices, highlighting your unique skills and your expert understanding of long-term financial planning and multi-generational wealth preservation. Be sure to include any relevant referrals or connections within the family office sector to add credibility.
  2. Highlight your accomplishments – family offices want to see tangible contributions so, reference quantifiable achievements i.e., successful investment strategies or percentage growth in assets managed.
  3. Incorporate language and values – familiarise yourself with the verbal culture of family offices – languages, values, and key phrases. Use this knowledge to literally speak the language of those who will be reading your resume.
  4. Avoid generic templates – both your resume and your cover letter need to be targeted. Be sure to address specific job description details and articulate how your unique skills and experience make you an ideal candidate.
  5. Demonstrate long-term commitment – due to the long-term outlook of family offices, candidates who are committed to long-term professional relationships are often favoured. Use your cover letter as a vehicle to emphasise your dedication to the sustained success of the family through multi-generational wealth management.
  6. Emphasise cultural alignment – show that you fully understand the family office's ethos, values and objectives. Through comprehensive research of the family office, you will be able to highlight the personal and professional factors that make you a superb cultural fit.
  7. Apply attention to detail – the family office sector is known for being meticulous. Don’t let errors derail your chances of success – ensure each document is well formatted and free of errors.

Interview preparation

Finessing your resume has multiple benefits. Not only will it help you to rise to the top of the resume pile, it will also equip you with information and tangible examples that will be valuable during the interview stage.

If you’ve found yourself wondering how to join a family office, know that interview preparation is critical. Given the specialised nature of the role, family office interviews typically include a mix of technical, behavioural, situational, and culture-fit questions to gauge your suitability. These could include:

  • Technical question – “can you discuss your experience in wealth management?”
  • Behavioural question – “tell me about a time when you had to handle a challenging client relationship. How did you navigate it?”
  • Cultural Fit question – “what values do you believe are important in a family office setting, and how do your values align with ours?”
  • Situational question – “how would you handle a sudden market downturn affecting the family's investment portfolio?”

In preparing for your interview, remember that practice makes perfect. Rehearse your answers beforehand and conduct mock interviews with a friend to refine your delivery. Trust us, you’ll feel much more confident come interview day!

It’s important to also note that some family offices may employ a competency-based approach in their interviews. These competency-based tasks are strategically formulated to assess specific skills, behaviours, and attributes that are crucial for success in the role. They generally focus on real-life scenarios, requiring candidates to draw from their experiences. They could include everything from a financial planning case study to an investment analysis.

Of course, it’s hard to know what the family office will have in store for you when it comes to competency-based tasks. However, you can still prepare effectively by:

Understanding the key competencies – what are the key skills the family office is seeking?

Researching the family office – what are the unique values and goals of the family office? What can you tailor your responses around?

Reviewing your experiences – what are the situations where you demonstrated the competencies sought by the family office? Can you formulate a response using the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result)?

Staying abreast of industry trends – do you feel well-informed about the latest trends and developments in the family office sector? Can you demonstrate a strong understanding of the industry?

Developing an elevator pitch – have you crafted a customised pitch (one that summarises your key competencies and experiences)?

Internship and entry-level opportunities

The need for suitable talent is growing in the Singapore family office sector. As a result, firms have started taking a more welcoming approach to hiring interns.

Andrea says an internship is the perfect gateway to further opportunities in this niche industry. She says, “when it comes to family offices in Singapore, I truly believe that the best experience is work experience. I get so many questions about how to join a family office and I always advise people to take any entry-level opportunity they can.”

Andrea believes this kind of exposure is invaluable, particularly as a pathway to securing more permanent roles. She says, “many candidates have learnt more from an internship than they have from some formal education. Practical exposure has helped them to understand the industry from a holistic perspective, while giving them hands-on operational experience. Not only do they leave the internship with a unique skillset, they often walk away with a job, or, at the very least, impressive industry contacts.”

If you’re wanting to get your foot in the door to a family office in Singapore, be proactive about looking for internships or entry-level opportunities. Potential avenues include:

  • Networking - by attending industry events you can connect with family office professionals and express your interest.
  • Career services – speak with your educational institution’s careers department and see if they have any partnerships with any family offices or, adjacent industries.
  • Financial industry – remember, exposure to other industries will still carry weight in a family office. Financial institutions like banks, or wealth management firms could certainly enhance your skills and may be able to offer some exposure to family office operations.
  • Professional organisations - join professional finance and wealth management organisations, such as the CFA Institute or the Singapore Trustee Association. Expand your network and explore any potential opportunities on offer.
  • Online platforms – leverage platforms like LinkedIn to engage with family office professionals and grow your network.

Career Trajectory

It can’t be understated how critical professional development is to honing your skills within a Singapore family office. Take the time to invest in yourself by attending workshops, webinars, and training programs, focused on wealth management and family office operations.

Continuous learning will empower you to stay relevant, credible, and competitive. It will also ensure that you are well equipped to give your best and produce the best outcomes for your clients.

In turn, you can enjoy a lasting career within a Singapore family office, experiencing opportunities that are unique to this dynamic field. Opportunities for advancement include but are not limited to:

  • Chief Executive Officer
  • Chief Investment Officer
  • Director of Wealth Planning
  • Client Relationship Manager
  • Wealth Manager
  • Investment Analyst

Navigating compensation and benefits

The Singapore family office industry has attracted great attention in regards to compensation potential. However, it’s important to remember that compensation structures and benefits are truly variable. Packages will vary from office to office depending on factors like the size of the office, the family’s financial situation, and the roles and responsibilities of the individual.

Typically, you will need to weigh up a range of elements when assessing the total package. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Base salary – these are generally quite competitive and are often comparable to those in financial institutions.
  • Annual bonus and/or performance-based incentives – these are linked to individual and overall performance, determined by factors such as investment returns, financial planning success, and the achievement of measurable goals.
  • Profit sharing and carried interest – these are initiatives whereby professionals may receive a share of the profits generated by successful investment strategies.
  • Retirement plans and provident funds – family offices often provide retirement plans or contribute to provident funds on behalf of employees. These plans may include employer contributions based on the employee's salary or performance.
  • Lifestyle benefits – from health and wellness benefits like medical insurance, to flexible work arrangements, there are a range of lifestyle factors to consider.
  • Professional development and education - family offices may invest in the professional development of their employees, offering financial support for relevant certifications, courses, or further education.
  • Discretionary benefits – these include bespoke perks as decided by the family. This could see the employee having access to things like family-owned properties or certain clubs.

To maximise your success when it comes to compensation and benefits, it’s critical that you have a thorough understanding of industry benchmarks. Be sure to conduct your own research and validate your findings via a reputable salary guide.

The Robert Half Salary Guide offers comprehensive salary data and insights to help you determine whether your compensation goals are within the market range for your experience and position level.

If you receive an offer that is below the market averages or, if you feel you are worth more, it’s important to justify this to the prospective family office.

Negotiation success hinges on the manner in which you communicate. In the field of family office, where relationships are critical, it’s important to nurture these relationships by operating with a high degree of respect.

To improve your chances of a positive outcome, be sure to avoid the common pitfalls of salary negotiations:

  • Starting with a demand - it can make you appear aggressive.
  • Prematurely revealing your salary history or expectations – it hinders your bargaining power.
  • Using ultimatums – it comes across as unprofessional and jeopardises your offer.
  • Being too rigid – negotiations are about give and take.
  • Being unprepared – it makes it difficult for you to make a compelling case.
  • Being rude in an attempt to be assertive – don’t burn bridges before they’ve even been built.

Singapore’s most affluent families are fuelling the race for some of 2024’s most coveted jobs. With so many professionals wondering how to join a family office, it’s pivotal that they take the time to dissect the role and understand the industry landscape to decide if it aligns with their skills, qualifications and values. This niche industry is one that offers a truly rewarding career path for the right individuals. If you want to take a step towards your career goals in the family office sector, the time is NOW!

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