When looking at decision-making within private family offices in the MENA region, it is perhaps natural to focus on the Chief Investment Officer (CIO), or equivalent position. This role is generally taken by an investment professional with many years of experience in the private banking sector or other advisory capacity. The CIO can often be seen as a gatekeeper figure, responsible for meeting asset managers and being the public face of the family office, although the appetite within these organisations for publicity is clearly limited.
Based on our research into these organisations, when it comes to determining investment strategy or individual transactions, decisions are generally put to an investment committee. We have found that these tend to be chaired by a key family member – unlikely to be the head of the family, but possibly a son or close relative – along with the CIO and sometimes several other trusted advisers, not necessarily with an investment background.
For those looking to engage with family offices, the conclusion is clear: prior research into the composition of the investment committee, the backgrounds of the various personalities involved, along with their collective investment preferences and strategy, is vital.