Assets managed by multiple family offices rose 68% between 2007 and 2011 to $777.3 billion, according to research released Wednesday by Cerulli Associates, a Boston-based global research firm.

Over that four year period, these assets have had a compounded annual growth rate of 13.9%.

A multiple family office is a wealth manager that serves families with significant wealth. Many such firms are structured as registered investment advisors.

"The term family office is synonymous with wealthy families and the impressive wealth of the ultra-high-net-worth and high-net-worth investors is attractive to asset managers," said Bing Waldert, director at Cerulli.

According to Waldert, wealthy investors are “incredibly fickle” and there are “unique advantages and disadvantages” to working with them.

“The familial aspect of these investors creates decentralized and complex decision-making,” he said. “However, the multigenerational nature of extreme wealth means these same investors have long time horizons and can accept illiquidity."

Cerulli's research shows that understanding the decision-making process of each multiple family office will allow asset managers to better target the offices. Different types of family offices can have a variety of decision-making methods around manager selection. Understanding this process will help to guide what resources asset managers should dedicate to these firms.

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