Indian multi-family office Waterfield Advisors is increasingly being asked by its overseas clients to help them with international investments and offshore structures, said Munish Randev, chief investment officer of the Mumbai-based firm.

Some of its families, for instance, are seeking help with assessing family offices they are considering employing in other markets, in what an executive at another MFO said was an unusual but understandable move.

Randev told AsianInvestor: “Some of our clients who wish to work with multi-family offices in other countries have asked Waterfield to help conduct due diligence on those MFOs.”

“These discussions are at an early stage, but they want to use us as a yardstick for assessing offshore MFOs they want to work with to invest in overseas assets,” he noted. “They want us to do a check on systems, structure, expenses and governance, etcetera.”

This would be a first for Waterfield, which has around $2 billion in assets under advisory spread across 32 clients.

The request to do due diligence on other multi-family offices seems relatively unusual. The Asia head of a European MFO said it is not something the operation in Singapore had been asked to do or had heard being done.

He said it made sense. “[Waterfield have a clear advantage in that they understand what Indian families are looking for,” he noted.

However, it was also a somewhat odd request, added the unnamed MFO executive, “because clearly we would want to promote our own services, assuming it is client we would be interested in having on board”.

International development

The request has come at a time when Waterfield has been looking to broaden its international offering, noted Randev. It has been largely focused on domestic assets since it was set up in 2011, he added, but is considering branching out more overseas.

For instance, Waterfield services one family based in Singapore and one based in Europe, both of which employ it to provide advice and services in India. But now they are talking to the firm about doing the same for their offshore holdings as well, said Randev.

“In the past few months they have asked us to work with them to create a fully fledged offshore structure, whether it will be in Europe, Dubai or elsewhere,” he noted. “We’ll then be looking at the asset allocation side.”

As for how Waterfield invests overseas, it works with various research platforms for selecting mutual funds, said Randev. As with domestic products, the MFO only provides advice – the client can buy from any execution platforms, he stressed.