November 2023
Vol 9 | Issue 610

Q&A with Adriana Zalucka of MyFoTech


Principal Series:

We are a private network and events platform that connects family office professionals, principals and wealth owners with consultants, technology & service providers, and investors. Our research-based approach helps family offices identify their technology strategy and find the best solutions for their family office needs.

Join us online on 8 & 9 Nov for in-depth discussions of the below issues. Register here

Family Office Insights is a voluntary, “opt-in” collaborative peer-to-peer community of single family offices, qualified investors and institutional investors. Join the community here

How to address the most pressing family office tech and ops-related challenges?

Join us online on 8 & 9 Nov for in-depth discussions of the below issues. Register here

How do I compare and choose from all the available solutions out there, each claiming they’re the holy grail? Is it better to go with an integrated platform or a best-of-breed approach? How do I compare apples to apples? How much should I keep in-house vs outsourcing?

These are some of the most common questions I’ve come across in speaking to family office execs whose responsibilities include technology and operations. The landscape of family office technology vendors is crowded, dynamic and confusing, surrounded by a haze of marketing collateral, various accolades and sponsored discussions — but little insight that would help narrow the options for a particular office.

The options and solutions will be different for each family office depending on its structure, mission, existing setup and legacy systems, the needs of the stakeholders (wealth owners/clients, investment and finance teams, beneficiaries, trustees, board members), the types and complexity of investments, available resources, the future vision of the office, etc. This is a highly bespoke area where consultants are often pulled in to help, sometimes after costly lessons have been learned.

It is also where MyFoTech is looking to make a difference by bringing a network of experts and practitioners into a forum where they can cross-pollinate by sharing knowledge and experience and learning from peers. One of our key collaborators is Phil Strassler, founder of the Larry Kraus Family Office Tax & Tech-NEW-Logy Institute, which produces noncommercial learning programs based on feedback from his expert committee and his network of family offices on which solutions they want to learn more about.

Phil's focus is on the founders and the why, and the main point of our alignment is a shared commitment to creating a community that helps family office executives and principals choose the best configuration of technologies to help them execute their strategy.

What are the obstacles family offices come across trying to adopt new technology?

QuickBooks and Excel are probably the most common technologies used by private family offices and often work well enough to maintain the status quo. The majority (70%) of single family offices lack the time to focus on technology, and half lack an awareness of the key solutions (Forge Community Technology Survey 2022), which makes it difficult to justify spending tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual license fees for purpose-built family office solutions. Therefore, before delving into the strategy and available options, a pivotal choice must be made: whether to invest in new technology.

“SFO financial and investment teams face significant challenges when proposing the purchase of new technology,” says Jon Carroll, a prominent single family office consultant and one of our expert thought leaders. “Beyond identifying business needs and the expected benefits of new or additional technology, most will have to prove the value of the investment in new technology to leadership and family members”

Another area where we’re looking to assist is by increasing awareness and making sense of the ever-changing landscape of family office tech, pointing those on their tech journey in the right direction, and helping them compare apples to apples.

For example, one of the projects we have completed is our unique, nonsponsored survey of integrated accounting solutions in partnership with Dr. Tania Neild and InfoGrate, a specialist family office consulting and services firm. Tania explains: “Integrated systems, as their name indicates, offer the ability to provide multiple accounting services, be it portfolio accounting, partnership accounting, general ledger accounting. As the complexity of your accounting needs increases, the value of the integrated approach grows. However, the implementation time, cost and risks also increase. Planning, staffing, training and alike all need to adjust accordingly.”

For both single and multi-family offices contemplating the adoption of these systems, they are looking at a major conversion that, depending on their complexity, can take several years and cost typically between $100,000 and $500,000 annually. Therefore, selecting the right partner — knowing who and how to evaluate, what questions and metrics to ask — is critical. Through our survey, we gathered valuable data on these systems, including pricing models and estimates, type and number of clients, security, specific system features, services and contracting terms.

What are the challenges around supporting private market investments and information security?

Another major pain point I regularly hear about from most FOs is the disjointed workflow for private equity that involves a lot of mundane manual work that quickly runs up costs. As allocations to private markets increase, this issue becomes increasingly pronounced. There’s frustration over having to fill out multiple subscription docs and KYC with the same information. There’s frustration with PE managers over the slow delivery of capital statements and K1s, which creates delays in reporting and difficulties filing accurate tax returns on time. The tools that help collect and read data from PDFs are helpful, but they don’t solve the problem because there is no standard format to share the data, and it needs to be reviewed by a human.

There is a lot of room for innovation and automation and, at least from a family office point of view, a great need for standardization. This makes it an interesting space to watch, also from a regulatory point of view. Unfortunately, the highly anticipated private fund rules adopted by the SEC in August disappoint on this front. Even if they do increase transparency for investors through increased reporting requirements, the lack of standardization might increase rather than reduce the burden on operational professionals.

Underlying all of the above issues is a concern for security of information. According to the Forge Community Technology Survey 2022, 59% of FOs do not believe their family members can access their information safely and securely anywhere at any time, whilst our survey of integrated vendors shows that data encryption in transit and at rest is not a uniform standard and that access to client data can vary widely, introducing potential vulnerabilities into family offices. From anecdotal information, there is a lot that families and their offices can do to proactively improve cybersecurity, including training staff and eliminating basic vulnerabilities such as insecure email. Protecting personal data is crucial, as cybercriminals are increasingly harnessing advanced AI technologies to exploit it.

Join us online on 8 & 9 Nov for in-depth discussions of the below issues. Register here

Adriana Zalucka of MyFoTech

Adriana Zalucka brings over 15 years of project and event management, relationship management and business development within the North American family office space, with particular focus on technology and operations.

As a senior publisher, Adriana launched and oversaw delivery of successful multi-year projects, assembling and training her own team and establishing key industry partnerships.

Outdoor enthusiast and a keen athlete, she still holds the 10km track University of Akron record. She’s also first author of an academic paper on fracking in the peer-reviewed Energy Policy journal.

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