As the asset managers for wealthy families in the rest of the world focus on growing their clients' cash piles, Asia's dynasties have had their managers follow a more conservative path - a strategy that could hurt returns ahead.
This was among the insights contained in the Global Family Office Report, prepared by Campden Wealth Research and UBS, released Wednesday.
The survey tracked 224 family offices - as the private wealth management firms that care for the assets of super-rich individuals or families are known - in 37 countries, with more than $200 billion in assets under management.
"We've been seeing a multiyear risk-on globally," for most family offices, Dominic Samuelson, chief executive at Campden Wealth, which provides services for family offices, said. "What we have been seeing here in Asia has been the reverse, a movement away from a growth strategy towards a balanced and sometimes a preservation and conservation strategy."
That didn't hurt returns comparatively last year, with Asia's family offices posting an average 6.3 percent investment return in dollar terms, second only to Europe's 6.4 percent return. Singapore's offices outperformed the regional averages, with returns of 6.9 percent, the survey found. In 2013, Asia's family offices saw returns of 7.6 percent, compared with Europe's 9.8 percent.
However, Asia's family offices tend to manage smaller pools of cash, with an average of $431 million in assets, compared with an average of $806 million globally, the survey found.