Tobias Prestel and Katja Muelheim: Bringing Together Family Offices to Make the World a Better Place

Family Business owners and Family Offices have significant wealth. How can this be used to make our world a better place? meets Tobias Prestel and Katja Muelheim, the two founding partners of Prestel who, over the past ten years, have brought together thousands of Family Offices and UHNWI at their events.

What role does the Family Office play in the world’s economy?

Katja Muelheim

Katja Muelheim

Katja Muelheim: Private wealth globally is expected to top US$100 trillion this year. Family Offices typically start out with at least US$ 120 million and on average manage US$ 500 million. According to Forbes, there are 2,000+ billionaires today. This number captures individuals but does not include all the Family Offices that manage massive amounts of family wealth. In total there are some 10,000 Family Offices worldwide, depending on definition. Add to this all the family-owned businesses (the American Walton family, owners of Walmart, being worth US$ 190 billion, and in Europe the family that owns BMW are but two examples). And as you see, private wealth runs the world – not just in terms of financial volumes, but also through the owners various activities. With great wealth comes great responsibility!

What interests and topics do these Family Offices have in common?

Tobias Prestel: Family wealth is usually based on expertise and more importantly, values. Not just shooting for quarterly dividends, because focus means taking the long-term view. This is where private wealth outshines decision making based purely on speedily achieved shareholder value. And what most family wealth and Family Offices look for these days is to make money while doing good. Yes, you do want a good return. Yes, you are extraordinarily professional when it comes to investments, but there is real joy when you make a positive impact. For example, making business sustainable and aligned to the UN’s SDGs.

What role do you play in this?

Katja Muelheim: For the past ten years, we have been bringing together these people at our Family Office Forum events. They are held in key world economy locations: London, Zurich, Singapore, Dubai, New York City, and Wiesbaden (near Frankfurt). Each event attracts more than 100 genuine Family Offices and investors. I love to connect people so they can build together and come up with great ideas. When you meet your peers, ideas spring up. And if you share an idea, it grows. Miracles happen when you bring special people together. At our events I see how people click. To enable this and to create positive energy is our passion, and so Tobias and I are actively involved in ensuring the right mix of wealth owners, Family Offices and solution providers.

Tobias Prestel

Tobias Prestel

Tobias Prestel: Genuine Family Office means, to my mind, those that are private, not commercial; those whose key activity is to manage and invest. Beware, there is a growing number of commercial Family Offices that do have wealth but their key activity is to operate as a solution provider: serving clients, looking for business, approaching you like a vendor – not as a buyer.

Katja Muelheim: Yes, the value you get when you come to our events is in meeting many more wealth owners looking to invest money and solve family issues than providers trying to sell you something. This is a promise we have been delivering on for the past ten years. We are proud to have created a safe networking environment which connects wealth owners and Family Offices.

Why do these special Family Offices, wealth owners and family members come to your events when normally, they would not go that route. What do they do at your events?

Tobias Prestel: They come to our events because it’s a safe place full of knowledge, not a product sales show. We assure them of full privacy, and do not use them as bait and sell them to sponsors as happens so often elsewhere. Yes, of course CIOs seek out investments and dealflow, but most come to meet their peers, exchange views, and discuss their experiences in Governance and Investment Best Practise. They want to learn new things and gain true inspiration, rather than be pitched products.

Katja Muelheim: The dynamics at our events are incredible, with all these wealth owners and their Family Offices engaging with one another. For example, over 50 billionaires in the same room at our event in Dubai. All our events, including in London, Zurich, Singapore, New York City and Wiesbaden, are made special because of the guests: super-wealthy people and their Family Office managers who normally are very much under the radar. When they recognise that they are in a room with the majority there being their peers – and only a few selected solution providers adding knowledge – the true magic happens.

Tobias Prestel: The magic is helping to make the world a better place for us and the generations to come – by making money while doing good.

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