Bobby Console-Verma isn’t letting the pandemic slow down his business plans.
The former investment banker and fund manager has set up 1fs:Wealth, a London-based technology firm that aims to help family offices and rich individuals manage their assets. Console-Verma, 54, has recruited five staff members since March and built up an advisory board. He plans to hire more as the company now starts to take on its first clients.
“It is still possible to successfully build a business during these difficult times,” said Console-Verma, who has yet to meet several of his new employees in person. “Not having any distractions such as traveling to the office has meant that we have been incredibly productive.”
Family offices, the lightly regulated entities that manage money for the wealthy, have proliferated this century. There are more than 10,000 single-family offices globally, at least half of which were started in the past two decades, according to accounting firm EY, including those of Alphabet Inc.’s Eric Schmidt, British inventor James Dyson and media scion James Murdoch.
Console-Verma came up with the idea for his latest venture last year after previously co-founding London-based fund manager Tower Gate Capital, which was sold for an undisclosed sum in 2016. He also worked at Nomura Holdings Inc. and Credit Suisse Group AG.
1fs:Wealth allows family offices and rich individuals to analyze their public and private investments in one digital platform, and also stores documents for their holdings. Console-Verma, who is chief executive officer, is looking to raise about $2 million in seed funding to help the firm develop artificial intelligence capabilities and a mobile-based version of its software.
Those with family offices typically “have accumulated numerous different types of physical assets, from properties to art pieces, jewelery, cars, private jets, yachts and so on,” said Vahe Vartanian, founder and CEO of membership group Global Family Office Community. “It is easy to lose track of where all of these assets are located, where they are in the world at a particular time, as well as the associated documents, such as deeds, insurance documents, receipts and valuations.”
The U.S. is the most developed market for family offices, with the majority set up more than a decade ago, according to a report from recruitment firm Agreus Group. About 6% of the nation’s family offices have more than $5 billion of assets under management, while roughly a third control $500 million or less, the report found.
(Updates with family office data in last paragraph.)
—Ben Stupples (Bloomberg)