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Family offices: paying more than you think, actually

If you thought working for a family office would mean a pay cut, you would be right.

But the pay cut might not be as bad as you think. A report from Agreus, the agency specializing in family office recruitment, has lifted curtain on some of the figures behind pay in the business – which is often, by its very nature, secretive and personal.

We took Agreus’ data to create predicted averages for 15 different roles in a family office, from personal assistants to chief executives – and the results were mostly to be expected. Although Agreus didn’t break down seniority, pay in family offices generally matches mid-career banking in similar roles.

It’s worth noting, however, that banks and family offices rarely have completely overlapping roles, and the remit of responsibilities at a family office can be a lot broader and informal than at an investment bank. It’s also worth noting that figures below are only salaries, and do not include bonuses (which, like in investment banks, are weighted heavier towards senior figures).

To give an easy example, no one in a bank’s compliance department could reasonably be expected to advise someone through a divorce, or to procure citizenship for a foreign mistress who has been impregnated by an industrial scion. At a family office, a general counsel would likely be expected to (at least) participate in such a conversation.

With that caveat, comparing Agreus’ results with our own compensation report shows some stark geographical discrepancies, demonstrating the different priorities that family offices in different regions of the world have. Accountants in notoriously high-tax Europe, for example, are much better paid than the notoriously low-tax Middle East.

Generally, however, the United States provides the highest compensation to family office staff, especially for finance professionals including chief investment and financial officers, investment managers, and investment analysts. It also, curiously, pays personal assistants the most.

Europe has the most “democratic” pay structure, with the lowest paid person in the family office (the operations manager) earning 19% of the highest paid person (the chief operations officer). The Middle East had the least “democratic” breakdown, with accountants, on average, earning only 12% of what chief executive officers earn.

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AUTHORZeno Toulon Reporter
  • SY
    SY2023
    21 June 2023

    Based on my experience, an Internal Audit Heads/Director in Dubai in 2017 gets $230-250k (in real terms) plus 2-3 month worth of annual bonus. In Bahrain, 2015 - $155k (in real terms) plus an annual bonus, typically 1-2 monthly salary. I also think COO/CIO figs for Middle East here are too low.

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