The best of both worlds

What can you expect from Smart Family Office? The best of both worlds. Well-founded knowhow. Pleasure in our work. The enjoyment of meeting people. A good reputation. And – in line with our mission – unorthodox thinking. That’s it.

Philipp Mayerhofer

“Whatever one does successfully, it is a whole series of targeted and sometimes minor decisions that lead to a great outcome….”

Q:What, for you, is a successful day?

P.M.:In one simple sentence: When we use our time and our client’s time wisely and generate visible added value. This is the basis for satisfaction and for establishing long-term client relationships.

Q:Is this also the feedback from your clients?

P.M.:Another great thing about our work is the positive feedback that we receive. If the client trusts us to carry out these sensitive tasks and to manage their investment affairs, then this brings huge responsibility. And it’s a responsibility that we’re happy to accept.

Q:And? Do they do this?

P.M.:Many do. This is the basis. It leads to a marathon of successful sprints or, in other words, ongoing support plus individual issues that emerge more-or-less suddenly and that we deal with – because they have to be resolved.

Q:What do you mean by suddenly?

P.M.:It could be that a client decides to sell part of their company – or that they own a property with a window that doesn’t close. This actually happens; our services are as small or as large as our clients’ concerns. But it can also be the case that we proactively approach our clients with an issue because we recognise that it could offer them potential added value.

Q:This approach seems unusual …

P.M.:And perhaps it is. But this is the benefit of the structure and the size of the Smart Family Office. On the one hand, the ability to successfully deal with major issues and, on the other hand, the absolute dedication to solve the small things too, with enthusiasm. Because it’s often these that make the difference …

Q:In other words, thinking proactively – not just for oneself but also for others? …

P.M.:There are a few key aspects to our relationships with our clients that are really important to us: The first is this long-term, holistic thinking that leads to long-term client relationships. I’ve already mentioned thinking proactively, and acting as a sparring partner in stressful situations is also important. As are our commitments to give 100%, to be independent and to ensure that the client is the focus of all our thinking.

Daniel Maier

“It is our clients who shape our work and ensure that it is fascinating, day by day. And we’re happy about this, because it means that we get up every morning full of new energy.”

Q:Of course the focus is on the client. But what actually characterises a typical client of Smart Family Office?

D.M.:This is precisely what makes our work so wonderful. For there’s no such thing as a typical client. Our clients' demands are far too diverse … which is why we have such a broad offering and work with our clients to develop solutions that are tailored to meet their needs.

Q:Someone comes to you and you chat and, ideally, work together. What’s the most important reaction that you get from your clients?

D.M.:Enthusiasm. Pure and simple. When we see that their trust, which forms the initial basis of our relationship, has developed into an enthusiasm that is as great as ours. An enthusiasm that leads, over time, to even more trust and, then, to a long-term cooperation that can last for generations.

Q:And that can possibly also lead to a referal?

D.M.:Yes, quite often, and this isn’t only something that really pleases us, but is also an excellent starting point. Of course it’s hard to say exactly what percentage of work results from referals, but it’s enough to make us very happy.

Q:What are the concrete areas in which people approach you?

D.M.:These can range from relocation or strategic advice to the challenges of an exit, which can leave a client with a lot of cash and the need to be certain that this money is well invested. But it can also be that someone is looking for financing for their project, plans philanthropic investments, is facing a succession issue or wants to grow their wealth sustainably.

Q:But I’d still like to come back to the question that I mentioned at the beginning: How would you, or do you, define a happy client?

D.M.:A client, who recognises, right from the start, the added value that we offer as an independent family office. This inspires enthusiasm. We’re working with many such clients today. And it’s always a great pleasure for us to experience how an initially small number of common interests develop, over time, into large areas of agreement, which then lead to individual solutions that allow our clients to sleep well. They trust us, because they know that they’ll also be able to rely upon us long term.

Michaela Sulke-Trezek

“Now we have the opportunity to realise the best of both worlds: The knowhow from global institutions combined with the agility of a lean and totally committed team.”

Q:To come straight to the point: Why are you here? And not in London? Or Singapore?

M.S.T.:You could turn the question around: Why did I leave in the first place? And the answer is: Because I wanted to learn more about capital markets and one can do this best in the major financial centres, such as New York, London or Frankfurt …

Q:Since your return, you have worked for ten years supporting UHNW and HNW clients at Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank Österreich, but what did you do before this?

M.S.T.:I worked in the capital markets divisions of two US investment banks, where I was able to gather extensive experience, which I’m now applying in my current work.

Q:In other words, a kind of restart?

M.S.T.:Yes – and no. A restart in the sense that our aim here is to find new solutions to well-known problems. But it’s not a restart insofar as the clients, whom we serve, demand the same things from us as from the larger institutions. And also expect more flexibility and holistic support. Which we are able to deliver.

Q:Were your expectations of this new set-up clear from day one?

M.S.T.:Absolutely. I wanted to do something, create opportunities for clients, shape things successfully. The rulebooks of large institutions make it difficult to be agile and fail to offer the whole spectrum of opportunities that clients need. Please don’t misunderstand me: I’m a trained lawyer and can take a responsible approach to risk. But the fact that three compliance officers monitor the work of one advisor isn’t in the client’s interest.

Q:And your clients agree?

M.S.T.:Clients are looking for other options, want to invest in other ways than a single bank can offer. This isn’t a criticism of the quality of the work of these institutions; it’s simply inherent to their systems. So we asked ourselves: Is the corset of one bank, together with the products offered by this bank, what our clients really need? Or can we offer these clients something neutral that is also cutting edge? This allows us to work holistically and not just from one perspective. This is what our clients deserve today, more than ever before.
Accounting & Finance

Angelika Mayerhofer


Dorit Maier