3 Common Family Office Technology Myths [And What to Expect Instead]

Dec 5, 2022

Debunking common family office software misconceptions

There are plenty of opinions when it comes to family office technology: Integrated versus best of breed, non-specialized versus purpose-built, in-house versus outsourced, IBOR (Investment Book or Records) versus ABOR (Accounting Book of Records). The list goes on.

And given the sheer number of opinions out there, occasionally a mistruth is bound to emerge. To help separate fact from fiction, here are three well-circulated myths about family office technology, and what you can expect instead.

Myth #1: You have to go it alone.

Selecting, implementing, and operating a technology platform can feel like an oversized task for family offices with limited staffing and capacity. Fearing that more sophisticated, purpose-built family office tools will compound resource constraints, it’s not uncommon for family offices to stick with non-specialized, seemingly low-maintenance software. From their vantage point, without the internal infrastructure or headcount to support the ongoing maintenance of a new system, the likelihood of adoption is low.

Here’s the truth:

Utilizing generic software packages for general ledger, investment data aggregation, partnership accounting, bill payment, and client reporting can actually hinder efficiency. Burdened with manual processes and disconnected technologies that beckon duplicative work, this approach can ultimately require more time to manage than enterprise-level family office software.

On the other hand, it is true that dedicated family office tools are often accompanied by a bit of a learning curve, but the long-term gains in efficiency, dependability, and accuracy can be tremendous.

Technology doesn’t need to be exclusively managed by an organization’s in-house staff.

In many cases, technology vendors offer outsourced services that family offices can leverage to supplement their own staffing. Similarly, family offices can partner with consultants and contractors to assist with upfront technology implementations and offload recurring, resource-heavy operations, like portfolio reconciliation, partnership accounting, and monthly reporting.

By working alongside external teams with operational or technology-specific expertise, family offices can reap the benefits of dedicated family office technology, while lightening the operational load associated with day-to-day data management.

Myth #2: Siloed technology and specialized technology are one in the same.

The wealthtech boom over the past decade introduced a variety of solutions that are hyper focused on specific family office functions—areas like alternative assets, portfolio intelligence, risk analysis, manager due diligence, bill payment, data aggregation, and benchmarking.

With so many options, family offices may find themselves leveraging two, three, five, and sometimes more disparate solutions. Hence the myth that these solutions must live in mutually exclusive silos.

Here’s the truth:

Today’s family office tech stacks are indeed more sophisticated than ever. But family office technology is also displaying unprecedented levels of interconnectivity. From strategic partnerships across firms, like the recently expanded relationship between SEI’s Archway Platform℠ and Canoe Intelligence, to the widespread adoption of APIs, file exchanges, and data warehouses, family offices have an increasingly wide array of options when it comes to integrating their financial data hub.

Myth #3: Technology is an expense, not an investment.

Family office or not, industry-specific technology rarely comes cheap. Built according to the nuanced operations and unique data structures of its user base, purpose-built family office technology comes with a commensurate price tag. But simply because modern wealthtech costs more than legacy systems and spreadsheets, doesn’t mean it’s not worth the price.

Here’s the truth:

Like most things in business, you get what you pay for. And while adopting family office-specific tools comes with a cost, using non-specialized software does too.

Oftentimes undetected, these costs may not come in the form of a price tag on a license agreement, but make no mistake, your family office could be paying in manual rework, duplicative efforts, multi-step data entry, time-consuming consolidations, and labor-intensive reporting.

Meanwhile, investing in purpose-built, process-driven family office solutions can introduce automation, native workflows, validation systems, increased data accuracy, and enhanced reporting, all of which can pay dividends in terms of time and resources.

Which begs the question: What’s that worth to your family office?

Originally authored by SEI for publication on Family Office Exchange: https://www.familyoffice.com/insights/3-common-family-office-technology-myths-and-what-expect-instead.

Chelsea Spoor


Chelsea Francis
Head of Strategy – SEI Family Office Services

Chelsea Francis is the Head of Strategy for SEI Family Office Services, where she helps steer the division's business strategy, innovation, and future growth. With more than 10 years of experience connecting with family offices and financial institutions serving ultra-high-net-worth families, Chelsea is also responsible for developing and leading the holistic marketing strategy for SEI’s wealthtech and outsourced service solutions for the family office market. In this capacity, she oversees comprehensive demand generation, digital innovation, sales enablement, and inbound marketing programs with a core focus on producing educational family office content. Prior to joining SEI, she spent time in state government, radio promotions and corporate cause marketing.

Chelsea holds a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University and enjoys spoiling her dogs, spending time with her family, writing short stories and playing soccer.

Share This:


Chelsea Francis

Chelsea Francis

Head of Strategy
SEI Family Office Services