Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Girl With the Family Office

Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy seemed a promising choice for light summer reading – an escape from offshore tax shelters and the world of wealth management.

Except it wasn't. In The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Lisbeth Salander steals a fortune. Using her hacking skills, she moves 2.5 billion Swedish kroner, stashed abroad by a bad guy, into her own offshore accounts.

The Swedish films made from Larsson's stories skip over her subsequent wealth management arrangements. It is the print version of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest that tells us about Lisbeth's family office on Queensway Quay, Gibraltar.

You need a crook to manage stolen money, she figures. Her choice: Jeremy MacMillan, once among
Queensway Quay
London's top business lawyers and stockbrokers. After dissipating himself into ruin, Jeremy has fled to Gibraltar. There he scrapes out a living from a a slightly shady trusts and estates practice.

To Lisbeth's surprise, Jeremy proves an excellent choice. He divides her 2.5 billion kroner (over $400 million) into three parts: $30 million or so goes into gilts to provide secure funding for her personal expenses. Half the remainder goes into stocks, real estate and other long-term holdings. The rest Lisbeth allows Jeremy to play with, compensating him with 20 percent of the profits. He sets up an investment company in Jersey and hires brokers and clerical staff in London. Profit for the latest six months: $7 million.

Jeremy has only one concern: What is Lisbeth going to do with all that money? Because of the death of her creator, we may never know.

Thanks to her hacking and investigative skills, Lisbeth Salander had enough dirt of her office manager to ruin him and he knew it. He also knew his hard drive and phone records were open books to her. Most hectomillionaires who set up family offices have to take more on faith. For them, a multifamily office owned by a major trust bank may represent a small step down in prestige but a significant step up in peace of mind. Ask the Ayer family about James Doorly.

1 comment:

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